By Susan Larson. Photo copyright Fredericksburg.Today.
The Fredericksburg Economic Development Authority awarded $30,000 in grants to Michael Colangelo for his 718 Venue in downtown Fredericksburg. 718 is a soon-to-open private events facility located in a renovated historic building at 718 Caroline St.
The EDA’s grants committee approved $10,000 for a façade improvement matching grant, and a $20,000 JumpStart! grant.
EDA Board Chair Amy LaMarca, Treasurer Bob Carter, and member Joe Wilson voted to approve the committee’s recommendation. Board Vice Chair Tom Crimmins was absent. Board member Chris Muldrow abstained, because his firm Rambletype has done work for 718 Venue.
Board member Bill Beck voted no, saying he didn’t understand why the EDA was giving money to projects that don’t need the money. “[Colangelo] is doing this anyway, whether we give him money or not,” Beck said. “It’s also a change of use for this building, and I’m wondering what the city has done about the parking issue,” he added.
Beck also referenced the $35,000 in grants awarded to local developer Jackie Payne in November 2016, for redevelopment of the former Pure Gas Station at 1600 Princess Anne St. Beck voted against that award, saying Payne would complete the project without the EDA grants.
At Monday’s meeting, Beck said he’d like to see EDA grants go for projects with “real meaning and real public purpose.” “We’re talking about three years of public art money and Main Street support,” he said of the $30,000 given to 718 Venue.
Board Chair LaMarca said the 718 Venue project was important to tax revenue and “bringing vitality to downtown.”
Beck also said he’d like to see Michael Colangelo restore the upper appearance of the building. “The upper brick part was painted [years ago], which was a violation of ARB standards at that time,” Beck said. “Michael Colangelo is not doing anything with it. Resorting the upper appearce of that façade, one of the few of that style on the street, would make sense to me,” Beck said.
“For the average guy on the street, this also falls under what’s the city doing about business,” Beck continued. “Heritage tourism has dropped by the boards, and a whole group of people are frustrated that money falls out of the sky and does not fall on them.”
“They’re not asking,” LaMarca responded. “We consider all grant applications. If folks don’t avail themselves of what’s being offered, we can’t give it to them.”
Legal Counsel Blanton Massey suggested the board could “go back and look at the criteria” for its grants moving forward.
The EDA provides financial grants or incentives to assist new and existing businesses in the city, “in order to foster and stimulate development.” Applications are accepted March 1, June 1, September 1, and December 1 every year. See the EDA Grants website for details.
Colangelo resigned from the EDA board, so that he would be eligible to receive the grants. He had just over a year left on his term. LaMarca’s board term expires April 30, 2017.
The board consists of seven members, city residency required, appointed to four-year terms. With the Colangelo and LaMarca vacancies, City Council will be interviewing for two new members.
Fredericksburg residents interested in serving on any of the city’s boards and commissions should complete an application. Details are available online at City of Fredericksburg Boards & Commissions.
Local Developer Receives $35K for Princess Anne Street Revitalization Project
Former Pure Gas Station and Convenience Store Sold