Grants to aid revitalization of older city neighborhoods

$75,000 to be used for renovation projects, homeownership program


December 16, 2003|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,SUN STAFF

Westminster has received more than a quarter million dollars in state grants this month to help pay for two renovation projects and a program designed to encourage homeownership in older neighborhoods, city officials said.

The city learned last week that it would receive a state Community Legacy grant worth $75,000, which will be split between the city's homeownership program and a project to upgrade street lights on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The homeownership program will be given $25,000 to continue disbursing grants to potential homebuyers who are interested in purchasing older Victorian homes within the Old Town Westminster district, said Karen Blandford, manager of the city's Office of Housing and Community Development.

"We felt that moderate- to upper-income buyers are often marketed to by builders of new homes," she said. "They don't see the same kind of marketing from older neighborhoods. We wanted to spread the word about how wonderful older neighborhoods are in Westminster."

The program began last year with a $20,000 state grant. Within months, the money was gone, with 10 recipients receiving $2,000 each to cover home closing costs, Blandford said.

"We know that in several of the cases, they were first-time homebuyers, while in other cases, they were move-up buyers," she said. "We think it's been a very successful program."

The remaining $50,000 will help pay for streetlights along Pennsylvania Avenue. The project was one of several recommendations from a task force of about 40 officials and residents who studied Pennsylvania Avenue last year in an effort to rehabilitate the troubled neighborhood.

The project, which is in the engineering stage, will involve replacing overhead lights with shorter ones installed under trees that will brighten sidewalks, Blandford said. Lower Pennsylvania Avenue will be targeted first, followed by West Main and Union streets.

Another grant for $201,630, approved Dec. 3 by the state Board of Public Works, will go toward rehabilitating a portion of the stone playground walls at City Playground, off Center Street.

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