The redevelopment of the U.S. 1 corridor in Howard County is due a boost from federal approval of $18.4 million in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds for Howard projects east of Interstate 95.

Part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the approval allows the county to choose projects whose developers can use proceeds of a bond sale tax-free, thus lowering construction costs, according to county finance director Sharon F. Greisz.

The program gives counties and municipalities with more than 100,000 residents the authority to issue tax-exempt bonds in order to finance Recovery Zone facilities; it is not a direct funding program that allocates public dollars.

The bonds are intended for areas experiencing economic distress, and the County Council has designated the U.S. 1 corridor to receive such help.

A project such as the MARC train station parking garage that must be built prior to construction of a large mixed-use development in Savage is an example of how the benefit could be used, though it could apply to a variety of private projects in the corridor. Developers must apply to the county. Using the government's tax-free borrowing power could enable a project to move forward more quickly, Greisz said.

- Larry Carson

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