Governor Ehrlich Announces Priority Places Designees - Southern Maryland Headline News

Governor Ehrlich Announces Priority Places Designees

Projects in Hyattsville and Crisfield Join Program for Revitalization

Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., and Lt. Governor Michael S. Steele, today announced the designation of Maryland's second round of Priority Places in cities of Hyattsville and Crisfield, continuing the Ehrlich-Steele Administration's new effort to promote well-planned development in targeted growth areas.

"These two projects exemplify our priority for proposals that have great potential to spark ongoing redevelopment and bring about long-term change in Maryland's existing communities," said Governor Ehrlich. "I am confident that these two projects will benefit from the Priority Places program by maximizing the public investment in these neighborhoods, and taking critical steps in helping restore the bay."

The Priority Places initiative is designed to re-energize and refocus state policies for land use and smart growth by encouraging development in existing communities where public funds have been spent for infrastructure needs in the past. The initiative targets projects and plans that can become catalysts for broader change in surrounding areas, with the goal of promoting economic development while restoring and protecting quality of life in Maryland's older cites, towns and suburbs.

The Hyattsville's Route 1 Corridor and Crisfield's Somers Cove projects join previously designated projects in Baltimore's Poppleton neighborhood and the Leonardtown Wharf. Today's designees were selected from 14 applicants in the second round, which had a deadline of December 1, 2004. The applications were reviewed by the ten state agencies that have growth-related programs and roles comprising the Smart Growth Subcabinet.

Under the Priority Places program, the ten agencies in the Smart Growth Subcabinet have joined in an unprecedented coordination effort to commit all departmental resources to assisting the designated projects. These Priority Places partners meet monthly to create a comprehensive plan of assistance for each designee. Together they commit the full power of all of the regulatory, technical and financial resources in each agency. This unparalleled cooperative effort will reduce bureaucratic delays and help local officials and developers bring the proposal to fruition more quickly.

"Unlike most State programs, Priority Places are not tied to a single state agency," said Lt. Governor Steele. "Instead, designees will draw from all of the Subcabinet departments that play a role in growth-related decisions. This type of new coordination involves more than just funding, it involves drawing from all resources through the integrated efforts of the agencies. "

Hyattsville is working to spur the revitalization of the Route One Corridor as its traditional downtown. The City has teamed up with the Housing Initiative Partnership, a nonprofit organization that is redeveloping a vacant public building into mixed-income housing and a YMCA, and with Eakin/Youngentob Associates Inc., the private developer behind a $115 million redevelopment of a vacant car lot into housing and retail space. This unique public/private/nonprofit partnership is building on goals set through extensive planning and community input. Hyattsville's downtown revitalization plan will fulfill an unmet community need - by providing economic development, a mix of new housing, and a YMCA and by sparking the much-needed redevelopment of the Route One Corridor.

In Crisfield, the State will support a more early-stage planning effort aimed at helping the city to position itself for an economic rebound after losing 600 jobs over the last 15 years. For the State, this is an opportunity to encourage economic development in a small city that has seen an exodus of seafoodrelated jobs. Like many other Eastern Shore towns, it is now beginning to experience growth pressure related to waterfront development opportunities. The State will partner with the City in the development and implementation of a strategic revitalization plan to prepare for future growth near Somers Cove, the state-owned marina and the adjacent downtown area. The proposal builds on a public/private partnership between the Town and Crisfield Associates, the private entity that will fund the strategic planning process.

"These two projects represent excellent opportunities for the State to partner with local government and the private sector in efforts to revitalize older communities, and protect our natural resources," said State Planning Secretary Audrey Scott. "By helping to restore these communities, jobs will be created, the neighborhoods will be safer, and people will return to revitalize the area."

The State is accepting applications for the third round of Priority Places designations and expects to announce more designations this fall.

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