Virginia Avenue area improvements project receives state award

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October 2, 2013, Greg Larry, Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND — A Virginia Avenue revitalization project completed by the city received statewide recognition last week when it was given a Commitment to Excellence Award by the Governor’s Housing Conference forum.

A six-year project lasting from 2006 to 2012, the Virginia Avenue revitalization was one of six statewide projects recognized at the Sept. 27 forum at the Baltimore Hilton.

“It’s exciting to see how so much has changed in that area. We are very pleased with the honor,” said Mayor Brian Grim.

Begun under then-Mayor Lee Fiedler, the city had adopted the project, known as the Virginia Avenue Corridor Redevelopment Plan, after it received a designation as a Maple Street initiative under the Main Street Maryland improvements program.

Including Virginia Avenue and the surrounding vicinity, funding for the project, more than $15 million, came from combined sources including the city, the state and the Appalachian Regional Commission.

 Due to a scheduling conflict, Grim was unable to attend the awards ceremony. However, Nicole Wagoner, city council member, appeared to receive the honor. Grim taped a video to be aired at the event.

Improvements completed under the project included street and sidewalk repairs, the addition of nine businesses with 30 full-time and two part-time jobs, blighted property removal and expansion of parking, new signage, the addition of a community center and a housing expansion that added 42 lofts, 25 townhouses and eight apartments.

The two buildings that hold the new housing units are Klotz Mill and Cumberland Family Housing II.

Grim said he is very excited by two spin-off projects that happened in conjunction with the revitalization project — a new Head Start center on Seymour Street and Creation Laundry, a solar-powered laundromat on Springdale Street.

“They (state officials) are very excited about the solar-powered laundry. It’s the only one of its kind in the state,” said Grim.

Shawn Hershberger, economic development coordinator for the city, has been pleased with the revitalization.

“This is exactly what you look for. You want the private sector to take over to help to maintain the area,” said Hershberger.

Hershberger said the latest business to locate on Virgina Avenue is Executive Billing at 47 Virginia Ave. It was formerly at the old Memorial Hospital facility.

“The project has made a real difference. This is what you hope for,” said Hershberger.

The revitalization project and the awards are administered by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

City officials say they tackled what they called unfavorable neighborhood conditions to restore a vital community in the corridor.

“It was a combined effort. Our staff at city, on a daily basis, really makes all the difference,” said Grim.

Greg Larry can be contacted at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.