Restoration of Historic Newport Properties is Goal of Grant Application
The Newport City Commission on Monday voted to submit the application, seeking $640,000 in the state's share of the federal CDBG funds, so that the project can move forward.
The properties are found in Newport's West End, at 712, 910, 925, and 934 Columbia Street and 224 West 10th Street.
Two of the buildings are on the verge of being demolished, but will be saved, said Thomas Guidugli, Sr., executive director of Neighborhood Foundations. The vacant lot was the result of a fire eight years ago.
"It's exciting to do four rehabs in one area over there and new construction so close together," Guidugli said. He expects the project to cost, in total, $1.4 million. Currently, the Campbell County Property Value Administrator has the properties assessed at $82,000, but Guidugli expects that the value would reach $700,000 post-renovation and construction.
Guidugli, a former mayor and the father of current city commissioner Thomas Guidugli, Jr., pointed to Neighborhood Foundations's work over the years in boosting blighted blocks, and how the work then attracts private investment. The organization, formerly known as the Newport Housing Authority, improved Hamlet Street and is now attracting private investment along the 900, 1000, and 1100 blocks of Washington Street, he said.
Targeting redevelopment in the West End is new, Guidugli said.
"There has not been much investment in the West End. We've done several buildings on Isabella and all of them sold," he said."There's a kind of excitement here that we think will come of this and I'm excited about being able to do the rehabs in that area."
One project that did not win unanimous praise from the city commission was one that will result in the demolition of multiple historic structures on the southwest corner of 9th & Saratoga Streets. Dubbed "The L&N Lofts", the project, which is still being ironed out, required a zoning change from Residential-3 to Central Business District. The commission voted 4-1 to allow the change, supporting the planning & zoning board's unanimous approval back in May.
Commissioner Beth Fennell objected.
"The building itself, at four stories, is one to three stories taller than anything around it. In addition, it's a modern-style building, so one of my concerns is that if the project doesn't go forward and the buildings are torn down, we have a blank slate," Fennell said. "But if it's built, it doesn't really relate to the block. That's a key entry point being on Saratoga."
City Manager Fromme expects a full development plan on that project soon.
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher