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$6 million available for Community Legacy Program

July 13, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development has $6 million available this fiscal year for its Community Legacy Program, and Hagerstown officials are looking into getting some of that money for a potential city project.

Each year, the state department awards grants and loans for capital projects, or “bricks and mortar” projects, that must be ready to start and be completed within two years, city Planning Director Kathleen Maher told the Hagerstown City Council Tuesday night.

Maher presented the five-member council with three ideas for projects, ranked by city staff based on current priorities, including a City Center property acquisition and renovation, a new round of City Center facade improvements and funding for Phase 3 of its planned Memorial Park improvements.

The Community Legacy Program does not require a funding match, but municipalities must show how each project would be leveraged, Maher said, noting the easiest way is to simply match the amount.

The City Center property acquisition and renovation project would promote reoccupation of a downtown building, Maher said.

For that project, the city would seek to acquire about $100,000 to renovate the building facade and its interior storefront space, and then use an additional $220,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds for additional interior work, rear upgrades and the stabilization of upper floors.

“We’re not disclosing the property at this point because it’s something that we wouldn’t make publicly known until we know whether or not we have an option on the building ... but if we want to move forward, it’s got to be in here in order to apply for state funds,” Maher told the council.

The second project for facade improvements would require $60,000 from the Community Legacy program, matched by $60,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds, and would be used to upgrade four mixed-use buildings in City Center over a two-year period.

“And the state loves new facade programs with Community Legacy, so it would probably be successful,” Maher told the council.

The last project for Phase 3 improvements at Memorial Park would cap off the other two phases currently in the works for the park near the corner of South Potomac Street and Memorial Boulevard.

Phase 1 work, which will begin this summer, includes lighting, landscaping, fencing, paths and uncovering a portion of Marsh Run, while Phase 2 of the project will add a “memorial plaza” feature to the park. City staff is in the process of acquiring state funding for Phase 2 improvements, Maher said.

For Phase 3, the city would not propose a match of the requested Community Legacy funding amount of $70,000 because it would be expending approximately $71,000 in CDBG funds for the first phase and a grant for the second phase would cover an estimated $70,000 for the plaza.

The city council on Tuesday showed interest in all three project ideas, and would have to approve a resolution July 24 to allow city staff to submit requests for funding by the end of the month, Maher said.

Maher said she doesn’t anticipate receiving funding for all three projects, but hoped the state would grant full funding for at least one.

Since 2001, the goal of the Community Legacy Program has been to provide funding to local governments and community development organizations for essential projects aimed at strengthening declining urban areas and improving business retention and attraction, encouraging homeownership and rehabilitation, and commercial revitalization.

Hagerstown has received $2.45 million in funding for 15 projects since 2002.

The city received $80,000 for artist lofts and facade improvements at 36-40 N. Potomac St. earlier this year. In 2011, the city was awarded $150,000 for its business incubator in the former CVS building at 60-64 W. Washington St., which is currently being renovated.

The city did not receive any funding in 2010.

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