DERBY-The city’s latest attempt to redevelop its disappearing downtown is underway.

Mayor Anita Dugatto named a five-person committee to weed through 11 proposals from consulting firms to develop a business development and marketing plan for the nearly barren 14 acres on the south side of Main Street.

The city received $445,000 from the state Bond Commission to hire a firm.

“This is intended to be the most comprehensive planning exercise ever undertaken on the south side of Main Street,” Dugatto said. “That area has been void of significant economic activity for far too long.”

Once bustling with business generated by the long gone Howard & Barber department store; Vonetes’ Palace of Sweets and Hubbell Brothers shoes the street consists of only four buildings now.

Only three are still open-Oliwa Home Supply, St. Anthony’s Book and Gift Shop and Calvert Safe and Lock. All four buildings are slated for demolition. That’s because the state plans to widen the Route 34/Main Street road from two to four lanes with a median divider.

The consulting applicants come from as far away as Florida and Texas, Dugatto said.

“I’m thrilled by the quality of submissions we received,” the mayor said.

The five-member selection panel includes Carmen DiCenso, the Board of Aldermen president and Thomas Donofrio, a first ward alderman; Daniel Onofrio, a partner in Rita’s Italian Ice; Ted Estwan, the Planning and Zoning Commission chairman; Mark Nielsen, assistant executive director of the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments and Lynn DiGiovanni of the mayor’s office.

The committee will meet for the first time March 14 at 5 p.m. in city hall.

Over time they are expected to interview all of the consultants before recommending one to the Board of Alderman for final approval.