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City could invest $1 million in CVS site

March 08, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com

The city of Hagerstown could invest as much as $1 million in public funds to incubate new business in the old CVS building on West Washington Street, officials told the city council Tuesday.

The city will close on the purchase of 60 W. Washington St. in about two weeks and begin renovations this summer, said John Lestitian, director of community and economic development.

Kathy Saxman, development funding specialist, said city officials estimate that the project will cost about $1 million, but hope to pay the lion's share with federal and state grant money.

The council gave Saxman the nod Tuesday to apply for additional grant money for the project from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The city is applying for up to $500,000 in Rural Enterprise Grant money, as the program is known, from the USDA, which it must match one-to-one, she said.

The $220,000 purchase price of the old CVS building would count toward matching the grant, she said.

A combination of $50,000 in state Community Legacy Grant funds and $170,000 from the city's capital improvement fund was used to purchase the building.

Those funds would be coupled with $280,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds, already secured by the city, to match the USDA grant, according to city documents.   

City officials estimated it will spend about $780,000 to fully renovate the building, Saxman said.

Once complete, the incubator will provide office space and common areas for new businesses, as well as provide assistance in management, accounting and business and financial planning, according to city documents. Existing businesses will also have access to the services of the incubator, the documents said.

Lestitian said the city is working with MSB Architects to design the building for mixed use, including retail-tenant, office-tenant and the incubator.

The front of the building will be a retail space, anchored by a paying tenant, he said. At the rear will be office space for additional paying tenants, and the middle will be the business incubator space, he said.

Lestitian said he could not disclose who the city is targeting for the retail or office spaces, but said his staff has begun working with two potential tenants and will notify the public once contracts have been signed.

Councilman Martin Brubaker questioned if there would be a time limit for businesses to stay in the incubator.

Through talks with funding sources, Saxman said she was advised to have the city evaluate the businesses after two years.

Lestitian also asked the council to begin thinking of possible names for the building.

Councilman Forrest W. Easton suggested having someone sponsor the naming rights, while Councilwoman Ashley C. Haywood said she would like to see the tenants of the building have a part in deciding its name.

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