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Program would provide loans to improve properties in downtown Hagerstown

April 09, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- The Hagerstown City Council is discussing a program that would loan the owners of downtown buildings as much as $100,000 to improve the interiors of the structures by adding elevators and fire-safety equipment.

On Tuesday, Director of Economic Development Deborah Everhart and Kathleen Maher, city planning director, told the council that the city has $225,000 to fund the project -- $100,000 from a Community Legacy grant and $125,000 that the city budgeted last year.

Maher suggested that the city go a step further by budgeting another $125,000 for Fiscal Year 2008-09. If the council agrees to do so at the end of budget discussions in May, the city would have $350,000 for the program, she said.

Maher said she also plans to ask for a $150,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to bring the total up to $500,000. If that happens, the city would have the ability to distribute five loans at $100,000 a piece, she said after the meeting.

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Everhart said the loans would carry 0 percent interest and wouldn't have to be paid back for 10 years. After the 10-year period, however, the loan would have to be paid back in full, she said.

The city would distribute the loans quarterly on a ranking system, Everhart said. Decrepit properties that might cause property values to drop on the same block were suggested to receive top priority.

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