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Cumberland Department of Community Development to Bring Over Twenty New Housing Units

Posted on 6/06/2024

593 words

 |  3 min. read

Infill Development Project Engages Building Developer for Neighborhood Revitalization

Infill Development Program Property Conveyance
Individuals representing the City of Cumberland, TeaBow Residential and Allegany County pose at Cumberland City Hall after the conveying of multiple properties in Cumberland.

A strategic initiative is underway in Cumberland to accelerate blight removal and transform underutilized spaces into market-rate housing. Through the Infill Development Incentive Program, jointly established by the City of Cumberland and Allegany County, the City is poised to welcome over twenty much-needed housing units.

“For decades, the declining population has led to a lot of unlivable, blighted properties in Cumberland,” shares Ken Tressler, Director of Administrative Services for the City of Cumberland. The City implemented a Nuisance Property Removal Program in 2014, which was renamed the Neighborhood Revitalization Program in July 2021. Since the program's initiation, the City has acquired over one hundred unlivable properties through tax foreclosure, donations, or acquisition. 

Infill Development Program Arch Street Demolition
Cumberland employees Kevin Thacker (left, black shirt) and Ken Tressler (second to right, blue and white shirt) pose with Dr. Walter Bowman (center, red shirt) in front of the construction site on Arch Street.

Some properties with structures were salvageable, others were deemed unfit for construction, and the structures were demolished. Over time, as the City accumulated these undesirable properties, the program’s investment in legal, acquisition, and demolition costs exceeded $3 million. “We started to think about how we can make the most of these properties and return them to the tax rolls,” adds Tressler. The City has sold over sixty properties to be used as adjacent properties (for gardens, parking, etc) or as rehabilitation units. Along the way, many properties with structures that were demolished were deemed suitable for new infill neighborhood development.  

The City of Cumberland and Allegany County joined forces to create an Infill Development Incentive Program to ease the financial risk for developers when rebuilding the properties and attract them to invest in Allegany. The pilot program offered potential developers five property groups, each priced at $1.

“For decades, there have been many unlivable, blighted properties in Cumberland. We started to think about how we can make the most of these properties and return them to the tax rolls.” - Ken Tressler, Cumberland Director of Administrative Services

The program further incentivized developers to invest by waiving fees for water and sewer taps, document filing, and occupancy permits related to the properties. In addition, the City and the County contributed $25,000 total for each dwelling constructed on the properties. 

Kevin Thacker, Code Compliance Manager for the City of Cumberland Community Development, says, “We started talking to potential developers and showing them the properties. TeaBow Residential was immediately interested in Cumberland's potential.”

TeaBow Residential, a construction and renovation company based in Washington, D.C., purchased all available properties, including lots on Arch Street, Knox Street, Lee Street, Maryland Avenue, and Penn Avenue. 

Infill Development Program Front Of Duplex
TeaBow Residential plans a modern and spacious duplex as their first offering to the Cumberland market.

In April 2024, the City of Cumberland closed on the first set of properties with TeaBow Residential, and the company has started groundbreaking on the Arch Street property. The company plans to build various new construction, including duplexes, single-family homes, condominiums, and a potential town hall. To maximize the housing options available on this land, the company anticipates building over twenty units, the maximum capacity allowed on the parcels.

The construction and the community’s response significantly underscore Cumberland's considerable need for housing options. Tressler explains, “These areas haven’t seen any kind of construction for decades—probably fifty to sixty years. Dr. Bowman’s involvement transformed this initiative from a blight removal project to a neighborhood revitalization project.” 

“We’re at the precipice of Cumberland’s new future. It's on its way back to being a vibrant city that's going to reach a different level in this new modern day of economic growth and prosperity.” – Dr. Walter S. Bowman, Sr., Owner, TeaBow Residential.

“Allegany County has some other big builds, like the old Allegany High School and the Memorial Hospital housing projects,” adds Dr. Bowman. “But, many haven't seen any new builds within existing neighborhoods like this for some time.”

“These homes are for everyone,” states Dr. Bowman. “Whether you live in the suburbs or currently living in the city and just want to take advantage of a beautiful new-build construction.”

He finishes, “We’re thrilled to see something built here that will give people a beautiful, thoughtfully created place to live.” All units are estimated to be finished with construction within the next two years.

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