— CUMBERLAND — After receiving two unsatisfactory offers to develop the historic building at 19 Frederick Street, Cumberland officials decided to explore other possibilities.
The city on Thursday announced an effort with Allegany College of Maryland to explore the feasibility of converting the building into a collaborative center for education, training and incubation space focused on the information technology and cyber security industries.
City officials said a study will determine whether the building can provide functional space for services including world-class training and entrepreneurs in the region.
“It’s important to have a feasibility study because it allows us to pursue funding to make the project happen,” said Shawn Hershberger, economic development coordinator for the city.
Built between 1902 and 1904, the Georgian Revival-style building was initially used as a courthouse and post office.
The structure housed Cumberland’s jail and police department from 1934 to 1978.
It later contained the Allegany County Human Resources and Development Commission until the organization relocated to a new building on Virginia Avenue in 2009.
The building has essentially remained vacant since that time.
In February, proposals to attract a developer received two offers deemed unacceptable by city officials.
The city hopes to attract a firm to complete a feasibility study that will help determine a management plan, set objectives and goals.
“The city is thrilled to be able to work with Allegany College. They are an economic driver in the region and it’s alway good to establish a collaborative effort like this,” said Hershberger.
City officials said the project will have a lasting impact on the community and provide outlets for citizens to learn new skills, become more marketable to employers and fuel entrepreneurship.
City council member Dave Kauffman has been involved in the effort to develop an education-based entity at 19 Frederick Street.
“I thank Shawn Hershberger for fostering the partnerships that helped us to reach this step,” said Kauffman.
“This is an opportunity to merge many interests," Kauffman said. "It’s about technology and training and leveraging our existing assets."
Email Greg Larry at firstname.lastname@example.org.