Town might seek another grant for downtown

STRASBURG – Town Council might try to use a state grant program to fix up a downtown property.

Town Manager Ryan Spitzer presented information to council at a work session this week about the state’s industrial redevelopment fund that awards grants that localities can use to rehabilitate dilapidated structures. The Department of Housing and Community Development administers the grant program.

Prior to the work session, council held a closed meeting to discuss the potential acquisition of property in the downtown area. Asked Tuesday about the connection between the closed meeting and grant program, Spitzer said the town is considering using such funds to redevelop a structure in town. Spitzer did not identify the structure.

Council has weighed the options on how to redevelop the former Brill grocery store building and adjacent taxi stand. The town also paid consultants to assess the condition of the properties and estimated costs to rehabilitate or demolish the structures. A plan under consideration calls for the creation of an open space behind the Brill building and taxi stand but, to make the area larger, the town would need to acquire additional land from adjacent, privately owned properties.

The town, through a different grant program, also employed consultants to examine the rehabilitation and uses of the Strasburg Theater.

The industrial development fund leverages local and private resources to redevelop vacant and deteriorated structures that no longer suit their former purpose. The structures deter other economic growth in the area but, once redeveloped, could serve as a catalyst for employment opportunities and revitalization, Spitzer explained.

Grants are available to localities as well as regional or local industrial or economic development authorities. The department accepts only one application per locality in each funding period.

The fund offers $2 million in grants each year and a maximum of $600,000 per project. The department received 13 applications and awarded grants or loans to four projects. Localities are reimbursed for project expenses as incurred.

Local governments can apply for a grant if the property is publicly owned; private property has an option agreement or contract in place to purchase at the time of the application; or the private property is owned by a nonprofit entity.

The town can designate a redevelopment authority or similar organization to serve as the agent that implements and administers the grant. The property must be conveyed to the locality before the department disburses the grant. If the locality sells the property to a private, for-profit entity, it must repay the grant to the state department.

Strasburg could use the grant money to revitalize any vacant or deteriorated properties. Eligible projects include manufacturing, warehousing, transportation, department stores, theaters, schools, hotels and shopping centers. The program does not allow funding for scattered-site projects or on undeveloped or vacant land.

The town could use part of the grant money to acquire the property and can spend the rest on rehabilitation, repair or demolition. The town cannot use all the money for either acquisition or demolition. Strasburg also cannot use funds for site remediation. Funds also cannot be used for projects without a market-based plan for redevelopment.

The program requires a 100-percent match from the locality. Strasburg would need to put up $300,000 if it requested $300,000. The town can use cash or costs directly related to the project to cover the local match.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com