State awards pave way for Hearn Building, other county projects

Hearn bldg front

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
The Hearn Building (center) recently collapsed onto the Tolley Theater building (left) and now funds have been made available to stabilize and pave the way for renovation.

CAMBRIDGE — Governor Larry Hogan announced, on Dec. 29, the award of more than $11 million to local jurisdictions through three of Maryland’s neighborhood revitalization programs — Community Legacy, the Strategic Demolition Fund and the Baltimore Regional Neighborhoods Initiative.

“My administration is committed to revitalizing Maryland’s older communities,” Governor Larry Hogan said. “These grants will help local communities make necessary improvements while paving the way for additional public and private investments in their neighborhoods and along their streets.”

“The Hogan administration is committed to providing restoration and operational capital to those older communities across Maryland whose infrastructure requires immediate attention and repair,” added Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Kenneth C. Holt. “We will rely on community leaders and organizations to indicate their most pressing needs and we will respond with quick and effective support.”

The Community Legacy program provides local governments and community development organizations with resources for essential projects aimed at strengthening communities through activities such as business retention and attraction, encouraging homeownership and commercial revitalization. Fifty-five projects in 19 counties and Baltimore City received a total of $6 million in Community Legacy grants in fiscal year 2016.

Significant to Dorchester County and the City of Cambridge are the Community Legacy Awards recently granted. Three Community Legacy Awards, totaling $600,000, have been earmarked for projects in Dorchester County.

The timeliest and most anticipated award in this group is an award for the Hearn Building, on Race Street in Cambridge. The Community Legacy Award grant was applied for immediately following the partial collapse of the south wall of the Hearn Building, on Oct. 28 of last year. This award releases $500,000 in state funds to pay for the stabilization of the Hearn Building, preparatory to a pending sale and restoration and development of the property. The award will pave the way for the future of the building, and also allow Race Street to be open to traffic again.

“This is a huge award,” said Dorchester County Council President Ricky Travers, who is also owner of the Simmons Center Market at 600 Race St. “With previous awards we have already developed a stabilization plan for the Hearn Building, and, once this grant is approved, we can move forward with the plan and stabilize the front and sides of the building. We are hoping that, once we start, we can have Race Street open in 30 days.”

Acceptance of the grant is scheduled to be voted on at the Jan. 5 County Council meeting.

Two facade improvement programs were also funded in this round of grants, one for the City of Cambridge and one for the Town of Hurlock. Both for $50,000, the money is earmarked to be used for facade enhancement programs “that fosters enhancements of commercial and residential properties to revitalize neighborhoods and business corridors.”

Paul Clipper is the editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at pclipper@newszap.com.

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