CUMBERLAND — Officials with the Cumberland Economic Development Corp. continue efforts to bring growth to the city, including the possible development of CSX land and reimagining old buildings.
The regular meeting of the CEDC was held Tuesday at Allegany College of Maryland with Paul Kelly, CEDC executive director, and Matt Miller, economic development specialist, hosting.
Several areas of interest in Cumberland were discussed as part of a presentation on the new civil master plan recently compiled by a Boone, North Carolina-based urban design firm. Members of the CEDC board discussed the CSX-owned tracts beside Martin’s supermarket on Park Street, as well as older vacant buildings at 19 Frederick St. and 400 Mechanic St.
Kelly said the large unencumbered parcels of land beside Martin’s have been placed on the market by CSX Transportation. He said two inquiries have been made so far on the land.
“I am encouraged by the comment you made that there’re developers that are already interested in the CSX property,” said Barry Ronan, CEDC board member. “That would be my concern ... who is going to come in and do this, especially since the Cumberland Gateway has not evolved as everyone thought it would have by now.”
Ronan was referring to the Cumberland Gateway Plaza off Exit 43D of Interstate 68. The parcels, between Maryland Avenue and Park Street, were targeted for a plaza containing a hotel, restaurants and shops. However, the project, in its fifth year, has slowed with developers unable to get several homeowners at the site to sell.
Also discussed at the meeting was the future of 19 Frederick St.
Most recently, the 115-year-old structure housed the Allegany County Human Resources Development Commission until that organization moved into a new building on Virginia Avenue in 2012.
The three-story, Georgian Revival-style structure was constructed in 1904 at a cost of $125,000 to serve as the city’s post office and a federal courthouse. It was designed by James K. Taylor, supervising architect to the U.S. Treasury from 1897 to 1912.
In 1934, 19 Frederick St. began housing Cumberland’s jail and police department and served that purpose until the new Public Safety Building on Bedford Street was built in 1978.
Several ideas have been proposed over the years for the building, including apartments, a tech center, hostel for bicyclists from the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath, or a training center. However, no plan emerged for the building.
Kelly said he and Miller toured the building recently and said the roof was OK so far and much of the refuse has been removed.
“It is another non-income-producing building in the city,” said Kelly. “Would we the CEDC want to take it on? How much would it cost to do the gutting back to a shell? Or, how much to restore at least one floor back to an office complex? Is now a good time to actually try to market that premises, given all that is going on?”
Ronan said the cost of rehabilitating the building could be astronomical.
“My concern is, do we know what we will be getting ourselves into,” said Ronan. “The roof is not leaking now. It could be a money pit.”
Cumberland Mayor Ray Morriss said it would be good to prepare the building for future usage.
“I want to make sure that when the time comes that we are ready and know what the real possibilities will be for the building,” said Morriss. “It could be a wonderful building to be used by somebody.”
Kelly said the CEDC has $420,000 in its budget, awarded by the state for development, that must be used by July 2020. The board agreed to get estimates on the cost of gutting the building to open it for possible interior reconstruction.
Officials also discussed options for the city-owned 400 Mechanic St., the former Canada House Hose Co. near the railroad viaduct. CEDC officials are expected to explore the cost of converting the structure for business incubator space.
Follow staff writer Greg Larry on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.