Rehoboth Beach, DE
Visitor InformationP.O. Box 50
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware 19971
Once a seasonal resort community best known as the "Nation's Summer Capital" because of its popularity among Washington politicians and their staff, Rehoboth Beach is today a "Year 'Round Beach Town," with events and businesses that attract residents and visitors all year long. Rehoboth Beach began as a Methodist Meeting Camp in the 1870s, with one-room "tent houses" laid out in a fan shape and bordered by wide streets and parks. By the early 1900s, the town had become a popular seaside resort. Through the roaring twenties and less roaring thirties, the resort grew, with tourists arriving by train on main street and Hollywood celebrities partying at the DuPont estate on the edge of town.
As the 20th century drew to a close, however, Rehoboth Beach faced severe challenges. An economic downturn and growing competition from big-box stores, outlet malls, and other area retail led the community to found Rehoboth Beach Main Street (RBMS) in 1996. The fledgling group reached out to business owners and began promoting the town as an exciting destination all year round.
Enter Main Street:
Rehoboth Beach Main Street's programs have been a catalyst for attracting more than 3.5 million tourist trips that generate a $630 million annual economic impact on Delaware's coastal region. Most rewarding has been the huge increase in winter tourism. Main Street's Mardi Gras Weekend and Gumbo Cook-off combine with Presidents' Day and Valentine's Day to bring merchants February numbers that look like August.
In 2000, RBMS launched a matching sign and façade grant program to preserve the town's historic cottages and replace back-lit box signs. Since the incentive program began, more than $60,000 in grants has been awarded to replace 70 signs and renovate 22 façades, bolstering its historic cottage architecture and bringing small-city charm back to the downtown.
RBMS has not only been a lifeline for preservation of the downtown's unique character; it is also a beacon for local business success. One of RBMS's most successful business ventures is its Buy Local campaign, through which it has sold more than $25,000 worth of gift certificates to drive business downtown. Its business assistance programs earned RBMS a Small Business Administration award as Delaware Small Business Community of 2008.
Rehoboth Beach Main Street's leadership has brought key groups and individuals together, connecting people of like-minded vision with a 'can-do' attitude and a 'will-do' follow up to build a community that is not only a popular get-away but a real place to call home.
Revitalization by the Numbers
- Population: 1,200
- District Size: 7 blocks
- Year of Incorporation: 1996
- Net jobs gained: 95
- Net new businesses: 16
- Number of rehabilitation projects: 56
- Number of new buildings: 8
- Vacancy rate when program began: 10%
- Vacancy rate today: 3%
- Public investment: $38,000,000
- Private investment: $41,000,000
If you go...
Itching to walk the sandy boardwalk, or to hit Rehoboth's lively sidewalks? Be sure to consult Rehoboth's one-stop trip planning web site.