CUMBERLAND — A work group formed during Thursday’s Downtown Development Commission meeting is intended to offer all involved in the Baltimore Street Redevelopment Project a centralized way of working together to answer questions and close the project quickly, Cumberland Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Matt Miller said.
The drawings for the project, expected to get underway next year, are 90% complete. While Miller said that they haven’t received final feedback yet on those designs and thus cannot say for certain if there will be significant changes to incorporate before the final product is presented, what they have heard from state officials so far is promising.
Miller said the group is comprised of people who’ve been involved in the process from the start, ranging from city employees and elected officials to local business owners. They want to retain as much of the original design as possible, he said, and also ensure everyone is informed “as the process evolves.”
The group will be tasked with finding gaps in financing that might exist once the final price tag is identified, Miller said. It’s projected that officials have a better idea of what the renovations will ultimately cost once the drawings are finalized and the contract is put out for bids. They’ll also be a “sounding board” for certain architectural and engineering ideas, Miller said.
“There’s a ton of moving parts,” Miller said. The DDC’s members are the most directly affected, he said, and naturally have questions. There’s also the city’s engineering department, as well as the contracted engineers. “We’ve got all these different groups, and it’s very important we’re talking to one another,” he said.
Miller said the group will offer support beyond aiding affected businesses in reaping some of the more obvious benefits, like helping them gain access to new utilities like fiber internet and water lines.
“I look at the CEDC and the DDC as kind of the advocates for the business folks,” Miller said. “As soon as we have an idea of a time frame in terms of when construction’s going to take place, one of the things that’s most important is business retention along that thoroughfare.
“We want to be able to mitigate any adverse affect a business could see … be it through e-commerce or strengthening their web presence or opening a back entrance not currently activated, things of that nature,” he said. “... It’s a very multi-faceted group, and it will evolve as the project evolves, but it was important that we get the conversation started early.”
The DDC meets next on Oct. 8 via Zoom.
Follow staff writer Lindsay Renner-Wood on Twitter @LindsayRenWood.