Reimagine Cumberland:’ Officials break ground on Baltimore Street project
Credit: Cumberland Times News
CUMBERLAND, Md. — As plans are nearly complete for the launch of her new business, Alexandra Brawn said she felt as if she were dreaming.
Brawn and Jamie Wiseman co-own The Three Stars Arts, which will include pottery, stained glass and resin work, and hold its grand opening at 74 Baltimore St. on Saturday.
On Friday, the business partners were at the downtown McCoury Stage for the $15 million Baltimore Street Revitalization Project groundbreaking ceremony.
While construction for the project is expected to last a year to 18 months, Brawn and Wiseman were optimistic about their new venture, and thanked the downtown business community for being supportive.
“It’s really accepting,” Brawn said.
Roughly 100 folks were at the groundbreaking, including Cumberland’s Mayor and City Council, Allegany County commissioners, and representatives from the offices of U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, and U.S. Rep. David Trone.
“This has been a long time coming,” Cumberland Mayor Ray Morriss told the crowd of the project, which began in 2014 when the Allegany Arts Council held a summit to explore ways the arts could foster economic development. “Good things are on the way.”
The project, “Reimagine Cumberland,” will open the pedestrian mall to automobile and bicycle traffic.
In the process, aging infrastructure will be replaced and 5G internet service will be added.
Morriss said the state “has been wonderful to work with” throughout the planning process for the redevelopment.
Maryland Comptroller Brooke Lierman said renaissance of the downtown Historic City Center is an “investment in the future.”
Lierman said she became comptroller because she supports such investments.
The project when completed will ensure people see “the beauty of these buildings,” she said. “They deserve to be preserved.”
Lierman said she’s eager for the project to come to fruition.
“I look forward to coming back to cut the ribbon,” she said.
Maryland Commerce Secretary Kevin Anderson said Downtown Cumberland is a living piece of history.
The revitalization project will enrich the community and boost spending in the city, he said.
“You all have made this happen,” Anderson said. “Great things are going to happen here and I can’t wait to see them.”
Matt Miller, executive director of the Cumberland Economic Development Corp., recalled early beginnings for the project.
“Tensions ran high early on,” he said and added that after much discussion, stakeholders “found common ground.”
Now, the project has “stimulated great interest” from private investors, Miller said.
Melinda Kelleher, executive director of the Downtown Development Commission, talked of people who invested ahead of the Baltimore Street project.
In the past 2 1/2 years, 26 new businesses have opened in the downtown development district, she said.
Kelleher asked that people support downtown businesses, especially during the construction process.
The project will also allow for more residential housing, she said.
“We’ll have a lot more people living downtown, which is wonderful,” she said.
Teresa McMinn is a reporter for the Cumberland Times-News. She can be reached at 304-639-2371 or firstname.lastname@example.org.