State awarded $650,000 for Baltimore storefront improvements

The Baltimore Sun
State helps renovate nearly 50 storefronts in Baltimore in wake of riots.

A year after the rioting in Baltimore on the day of Freddie Gray's funeral, the state announced that it has awarded $650,000 in storefront improvement grants to nearly 50 businesses in affected areas.

The Maryland Business Recovery Storefront Improvement Grant Program was established by Gov. Larry Hogan after the unrest. It's administered by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, which said it received 145 applications requesting grant funds to improve more than 180 individual buildings.

The department chose 26 high priority projects, which will result in up to $10,000 in exterior improvements for nearly 50 businesses. About three in four of the businesses were in areas severely damaged by the unrest.

Award-winners include pharmacies, community centers, convenience stores, retail stores and other businesses in Fells Point, Highlandtown, Waverly, Park Heights, Penn North, Upton, downtown Baltimore, Poppleton and Pigtown.

Under the program, the businesses will receive either free or low-cost architectural design assistance through the Neighborhood Design Center. And the Living Classrooms Foundation and Civic Works will hire and train unemployed and underemployed city residents to do the renovations.

"The Storefront Improvement Grant Program will help commercial districts become more attractive places to shop and visit," said state Housing Secretary Kenneth C. Holt, in a statement.

The department said it will consider additional projects when funds are allocated in the next fiscal year.

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