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Council gets update on development proposal

November 26, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Consultants gave the Hagerstown City Council an update Tuesday on a proposal intended to bring more residential and commercial development to the downtown.

The presentation during a council work session was on the proposed Community Development Corp., which would be designed to provide an independent way to bring the public and private sectors together, using public and private funds to do redevelopment work, city officials said.

The city has been using consultants from Washington, D.C., to set up the corporation.

Consultants Hershel Lipow and Thomas Rocky Wade said they were ready to file for the group's incorporation, apply for tax-exemption status, implement an interim operating plan, advertise for an executive director and solicit the corporation's first development project.

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The consultants plan to develop a proposed Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area, which can be submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Establishing the area increases the chance of federal funding for projects in a specific area in the city, city officials said.

During a presentation, the consultant said the organization's five-year goals include:

  • To be the recognized focal point for development in downtown Hagerstown.

  • To develop at least 500 new or rehabilitated units.

  • To raise at least $100,000 in excess of operating costs.

  • To raise at least $1 million in development capital available for products.


Richard Phoebus, head of the Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation (CHIEF), has offered to help manage the corporation until about June, when the corporation's first executive director is expected to be hired.

In a written staff report, Larry Bayer, acting manager of the Community Development Department, addressed an issue that was briefly touched upon during the 90-minute discussion: Funding of the corporation.

While the corporation's budget is tentative for the fiscal year starting July 1, it is estimated that administrative expenses will be about $211,000, Bayer said. It has not been determined where that money will come from.

The proposed business model calls for the city to be involved early on but for the corporation to become more independent over time. However, the corporation still would report back to the city and it is expected that a city representative would serve on the board as an ex-officio member.

A proposed financial plan calls for one-third of the money to come from Community Development Block Grant funds, one-third from foundations and one-third from corporate donations.

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