Eastern Shore Land Conservancy is preparing to begin construction on the Eastern Shore Conservation Center.
Construction is scheduled to begin by late spring 2014 on the former McCord and Brick Row buildings on South Washington Street. The site will serve as headquarters for ESLC, as well as offices for other environmental, agricultural, and community-centered nonprofits.
During the first phase of construction, ESLC is working with the Land Restoration Program of the Maryland Department of the Environment to remove a few pockets of chlorine- and petroleum-based chemicals. The clean-up could increase the cost of the project.
The finding was unexpected because the Department issued a notice of compliance in 2001 stating that an extensive 15-year cleanup process had been completed. Before taking ownership, ESLC had completed a Phase I environmental study that indicated the site was not likely to require further cleanup.
Because of the increased costs and the organization’s faith in and commitment to the project, the ESLC Board of Directors voted to increase the project budget to $7.6 million to accommodate clean-up without sacrificing the vision of a nonprofit center for collaborative work.
Fundraising continues for the Eastern Shore Conservation Center. ESLC recently signed a grant agreement to receive $500,000 through the Neighborhood Business Works program. Operated by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, the program supports revitalization projects that invest in commercial districts and town centers.
Additionally, ESLC seeks a café tenant for the center in Easton.
“We are excited to have reached this point,” said Executive Director Rob Etgen. “After a lot of work, we are ready to find the key tenant who will bring additional energy to the project. The café will serve as the front door of our project, its public face.”
The portion of the former McCord Laundry building that once served as the commercial counter will become a small café, with additional outdoor seating in the courtyard behind Brick Row. The café serve the employees inside while drawing in members of the broader community. Its location on Washington Street provides high visibility.
Since 1990, ESLC has helped to preserve more than 55,000 acres on 294 properties from Cecil County to Dorchester County. Town project work helps towns increase the recreational and economic vibrancy in Mid-Shore towns. The Eastern Shore Conservation Center will transform abandoned historic buildings into a thriving hub of activity on Washington Street, and serve as a gold standard for high-quality economic development across the Eastern Shore.