Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley went to the Avenue Market on the city's west side yesterday to announce $360,000 in grants to help five city neighborhoods improve their business districts.
The "Main Streets" grant program, funded from a $1.5 million pool of city and state money, will be used to provide technical and administrative assistance, to fix building facades, clean storefronts and make other improvements, officials said.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation developed the program about 20 years ago as a way to help urban shopping districts. The approach has been used in 1,500 communities across the country.
In Baltimore, officials have identified 33 commercial districts that could benefit from the program. Yesterday's grant recipients were culled from a list of 14 neighborhoods that filed applications with the Department of Housing and Community Development.
Over the next five years, each of the five selected business districts will receive a total of $260,000. This year, each neighborhood had to raise $26,000 to add to the first-year grant of $72,000. The grant amount will diminish each year until 2004, when each neighborhood will receive $17,000.
Baltimore has contributed $1 million for the program, with $500,000 coming from the state. City officials hope foundations and corporations will provide additional funding.
The following neighborhoods received grants:
The Federal Hill business district on Light Street between East Montgomery and East Ostend streets.
The Pennsylvania Avenue business district between North Fulton Avenue and West Preston Street.
The Waverly business district on Greenmount Avenue between East 35th Street and Exeter Hall Avenue.
The Belair-Edison business district surrounding Belair Road between Seidel Avenue and Sinclair Lane.
The Hampden business district on West 36th Street between Keswick Avenue and Falls Road.