Ideas to improve downtown

November 19, 2003|by

The following are some ideas submitted to the Hagerstown City Council by City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman and other city employees as ways to improve downtown Hagerstown:

  • Establish a downtown antique market, using $35,000 from the Community Betterment Fund. A market could attract shoppers to downtown.

  • Establishment of a downtown bakery, using $50,000 from the Community Betterment Fund. The city would loan money for the purchase and installation of business equipment or building upgrades. The loan then could convert to a grant after the bakery is in operation for a number of years.

  • Creation of a professional marketing program, using $50,000 from the Community Betterment Fund. "This is especially important for an older downtown such as Hagerstown's, which has experienced the loss of major retailers and the pressure of competing with suburban-style malls and big-box retailers," Zimmerman's staff report said.

  • Start a downtown housing incentive program, using $50,000 from the Community Betterment Fund. Through the program, the city could provide incentives to encourage city employees, recent college graduates and people just discharged from the armed services to live downtown.

  • Installation of a downtown camera system, similar to one operating on Jonathan Street, using $115,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds.

Some ideas did not include cost estimates, including:

  • Live Above Your Shop Tax Credit Program, providing tax incentives for business owners to live above their businesses in the downtown area.

  • A "Made In Washington County Store" that would provide business startup funding in the form of a loan for a retail store featuring products made in Washington County.

  • Have a series of movies at The Maryland Theatre modeled after the Opera House in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

  • Getting the Washington County Board of Education to move its central office downtown.

  • Piped-in music along the sidewalks in public square for the enjoyment of pedestrians and business patrons.

  • Develop a standard for window displays in the downtown business district.

Source: City staff report

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