CUMBERLAND — The Cumberland Economic Development Corp. is moving forward with plans for a study that could result in a redesign of the city center from Baltimore Street to Fort Cumberland Homes.
The CEDC is in the process of finalizing a contract with Boone, North Carolina-based Destination By Design to create an urban design master plan, Paul Kelly, the CEDC’s executive director, said during the group’s Tuesday meeting.
The design plans would cover the area from Baltimore Street and Canal Place across the railroad tracks to Queen City Pavement and Park Street and continue south through the Maryland Avenue corridor, ending at Lamont Street.
The cost of the first phase of the master plan will be covered by a $50,000 grant from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.
Kelly said the idea of using Destination By Design came from the Thomas P. Miller Co., which is currently working on an economic development strategic plan for Allegany County.
“Destination By Design is a subcontractor of Thomas P. Miller and they have already done work on identifying gateways into the city and how to improve them,” Kelly said.
What is a master plan?
The master plan looks at ways to improve the city’s urban core.
It examines vehicular traffic patterns, pedestrian movement, bicycle access, public transportation and infrastructure, ingress and egress, signage and visual appearance. In addition, the design plans review how to best locate new commercial and residential areas.
Officials are currently focusing on work being compiled in phase one.
However, Kelly said the final goal is to break the plans into three phases.
Phase one includes Canal Place to Baltimore Street to the Maryland Avenue corridor. Phase two will include the Cumberland Plaza (location of Rose’s Department Store) and the former Memorial Hospital site.
“Phase two will be more focused on the Rose’s Plaza to encourage development and growth in the area, and what to do with the Memorial Hospital site,” Kelly said. “We want to have that done in conjunction with our (upcoming) housing study. If everything goes well we will have a conceptual plan for the Memorial Hospital site to find the best usage.”
Phase three involves creation of a visual brand, campaign message, website and promotional video for the revitalization for the city’s urban core.
The plan is a multi-year project and will require funding to be secured at the various phases.
Brandon Butler, county administrator, said he wants a comprehensive plan. The county has already hired the Towson-based Zest Social Media Solutions to develop a social media strategy for the county.
“We’d like for (the plan) to include our current branding effort with Zest to make sure that is kind of tied in and seamless as well,” Butler said. “At the end of the day to have these efforts match the efforts already going on at the county now would make sense. I’m not interested in doing planning that is not in lockstep with the city of Cumberland.”
Kelly also gave an update on Gateway Plaza, which is planned for the Rolling Mill neighborhood between Park Street and Maryland Avenue.
A contract was signed in December with developer Ed Scott of Frederick, placing the remainder of the project in his hands. Kelly said Scott has taken over efforts to obtain contracts with about a dozen homeowners at the site who have not shown interest in selling.
Kelly also said plans are moving forward on the renovation of the downtown mall known as the Baltimore Street Redevelopment Project. He said a design plan for the mall was delivered to him Tuesday by Cochran Studios.
“I’ve received today 2D images of the new concept images for Baltimore Street,” Kelly said Tuesday. “We expect to have the written plans by next Monday. After that we will take the concept to the Baltimore Street Design Committee, and out of the group, they will make a recommendation to the mayor and City Council for a concept. That way it will be vetted in a public format in a public meeting.
“Then it will go before the Historic Preservation Commission to make sure it doesn’t run afoul of issues they could have there. And then it will be incorporated into the plan specification estimate by the EADS Group. At that point they will become documents to give to a contractor (to begin construction.)”
The renovations of Baltimore Street are expected to cost between $5 million and $7.4 million.