(Dec.26, 2014) The Ocean City Development Corporation announced last week it will be receiving $50,000 to continue its façade program and $100,000 towards decorative streetlights in the Downtown area from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development through their Community Legacy Program awards.
OCDC was also awarded $200,000 in demolition funding towards its Model Block Project located between Somerset and Dorchester Streets in Downtown Ocean City from Maryland DHCD’s Smart Growth and Investment Program.
“The OCDC was extremely pleased to hear about the grant awards. These grants represent the largest grant amounts that we have ever received in one year,” said Executive Director, Glenn Irwin. “The OCDC is very appreciative of the Maryland Department of Housing and community development for their grant assistance over the past many years, their assistance has been very beneficial to our downtown revitalization efforts in Downtown Ocean City.”
OCDC plans on using the $100,000 street light grant money on phase three of the St. Louis Avenue improvement project, which includes installing decorative street lights and LED lighting.
With $50,000 in grant funds, Irwin said he would approve six new façade projects. OCDC has completed 155 projects to date through the façade program.
“The façade program has been extremely effective particularly due to the private investment from the many building owners and business owners in the downtown area. This private investment has resulted in a very high leverage ratio, which has allowed us to continue to get façade funds for this program,” Irwin said.
The program provides subsidies to property owners for exterior renovations of their buildings, which provides higher-quality housing stock for local families while also boosting property values for tax purposes.
“The Model Block Project is a land consolidation project of the OCDC and Town of Ocean City. The intent is to attract a developer on the assembled properties to construct a new project that will bring people to the inner blocks of the downtown area,” Irwin said.
The intentions for the addition are to create more foot traffic, which will help businesses in the area, he said. In addition, Irwin said he thinks the development will increase the taxable base of these properties, which will help the town, county and state.
The $200,000 demolition funds from the Smart Growth and Investment Program will be applied to reducing the overall costs in site development of these properties.
The Community Legacy Program provides local governments and community development organizations with essential funding for important projects and is Maryland’s initiative to stimulate investment in traditional downtowns all over the state. These projects strengthen local communities, support housing and homeownership goals, while attracting and retaining business according to their blog.
Projects include improving commercial façades, greening and streetscaping activities, renovating historic buildings and rehabilitating properties in downtown areas.
Maryland’s program promotes neighborhood revitalization, affordable housing, tourism and economic growth.
DHCD announced a total of $5.7 million in Community Legacy Program grants to 67 projects in 20 counties and Baltimore City. Those grants support total project costs of more than $45.4 million.
“The Strategic Demolition and Smart Growth Impact Fund program compliments the Community Legacy program by providing the necessary predevelopment funding to jump-start transformational community and economic revitalization project,” as explained on Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s blog.
DHCD announced the award of $7.5 million to benefit 27 projects in 12 counties and Baltimore City. Those funds are expected to leverage an additional $178 million in public, private and philanthropic investments.
The program funds demolition, land assembly and infrastructure improvements that attract other public and private investment.
“This funding is also available to local governments and nonprofit community development corporations, who many times are working with private entities and other partners invested in Maryland neighborhoods and focused on creating jobs and housing opportunities,” according to their blog.
A few other towns in Worcester County received funds from the Community Legacy Program awards this year. Snow Hill’s Façade Improvement Program received $50,000 for business owners and residential properties.
Pocomoke City was awarded two grants, the first was $25,000 to rehabilitate the historic Costen House Museum. The other was $25,000 for their downtown business development and façade improvement program to assist business owners.