The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development recently announced a total of $5.5 million in Community Legacy program awards to municipalities and community groups around the state for revitalization projects. Community Legacy provides flexible funding to local governments and community development organizations for essential revitalization projects in existing communities through activities that expand neighborhood business and job development, homeownership investment, and commercial revitalization.
As one of this year’s awardees, the City of College Park received $75,000 in grant funds for the formation of a Commercial Tenant Improvement Program that aims to attract high-quality tenants to fill vacant retail spaces. The program will offer reimbursable grants for leasehold improvements in the amount of 70 percent of the total improvement costs with a maximum of $25,000 per grant. In step with one of Community Legacy’s traditional, core goals to provide assistance to small businesses, the Commercial Tenant Improvement Program will target locally-owned and independent businesses that fill a void in the City’s retail environment such as an apparel store, coffee shop, full service restaurant, or health club.
Previous awards received by the City of College Park include $75,000 in February 2012 for the strategic demolition of blighted buildings on the Route 1 Corridor and $100,000 in October 2010 for the construction of the Hollywood Gateway Park at the intersection of Baltimore Avenue and Edgewood Road.
Community Legacy provides resources to assist local governments to do comprehensive community revitalization initiatives. It is a flexible resource to fill key funding gaps not being met by other State or local financing and to position older communities for increased private investment. The purpose of the City’s application is to provide an important tool to attract the type of retailers that many residents desire, reduce the number of vacant retail spaces, and fill gaps in the retail environment.
The City’s program will provide matching grants to small businesses for the costs associated with leasehold improvements including HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and windows. Grants will target locally-owned and independent businesses, specifically businesses that fill a void in the City’s retail scene. Applications to the program will be reviewed by staff members of the Department of Planning, Community & Economic Development in conjunction with the Maryland Small Business Development Center. Applicants will be required to provide detailed business plans, financial documentation, and lease terms. Funds are anticipated to provide assistance to approximately six to ten businesses.
The City Council will discuss the draft guidelines in the first January worksession. Once that is finalized, the City will have an application available and businesses may apply immediately. We ‘re hoping that the businesses should be able to apply by February.
We have not had a program similar to this in the past. This will be a new program that exists in other places around the Country, but not College Park.