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Authority awards facade grant funds

The City of Warren Redevelopment Authority signed off on three facade grant applications and discussed the future of the former Brick House on Liberty St. during Wednesday’s meeting.

Vine DeJoy, the city’s planner, presented those proposals.

The first is located at 225 Pennsylvania Ave. W., the Faith Inn. He said the Warren-Forest Counties Economic Opportunity Council is undertaking a project totaling around $48,000 for step, facade, sign and glass work.

DeJoy outlined facade work that will “remove the ugliness that is there now” at 428-438 Pennsylvania Ave. W. He said the property owner “has done a fantastic job on these buildings.”

The third project includes signage, landscaping and some electrical work at Goat Fort Climbing. DeJoy said the proposed work will result in signage that is “consistent” in both size and “general look” of neighboring businesses.

All were approved for up to $5,000 in funds that are awarded on a one-for-one match and paid out after work is completed.

Shifting to the Brick House, DeJoy said city staff toured the building next door which has a new owner that is “exploring different possibilities” and “might be interested in other properties along Liberty St.”

He asked that the RDA consider funding a title search for a couple properties in the area.

“(I) think it would be appropriate and good use of RDA funds,” DeJoy said, “to at least find out what we’re dealing with around there as he tries to put a project together.”

Code Official Jessica Bee said the property has not been declared blighted and is in the process now. “It certainly does qualify,” she said.

The RDA expressed concern about acting prior to the blight declaration process is completed, likely in October.

City Manager Nancy Freenock suggested the issue could be revisited then.

In an unusual twist, passing the minutes for the May meeting failed for lack of a motion and approving the finance report, including paying the RDA’s bills, failed for lack of a second.

The group met in executive session for roughly 30 minutes at the outset of the session with city staff.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Authority member Wendy McCain asked that for future executive sessions the “RDA be made aware of what the subject matter is so we can be prepared.”

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