DRC wins “Community Impact Award”
Dundalk Renaissance Corporation is thrilled to be honored with the 2016 “Community Impact Award” by the Dundalk Chamber of Commerce. The award was presented to DRC’s Executive Director Amy Menzer at the Chamber’s Business Awards Gala on Friday, November 11th at Martin’s East.
In her comments, Amy acknowledged that the impact Dundalk Renaissance Corporation makes for our community is a collective impact, supported by the engagement and investment of so many individuals, funders, sponsors, and partners, including Baltimore County, the State of Maryland, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, and media partner Dundalk Eagle.
She highlighted DRC’s board members and the small staff who manage DRC’s many activities: Nathan Cabrera, Community Engagement Coordinator; Tasha Gresham-James, Housing Initiatives Manager; and Diane Lesman, Marketing and Development Director. Also present at the event was DRC’s 2016-17 Volunteer Maryland Coordinator, Chigo Oguh, who is working to develop a new volunteer program assisting Dundalk’s large population of older adults.
Examples of DRC’s work to grow new businesses, support current businesses, and build a stronger sense of community in the Historic Dundalk Main Street commercial area included our pop-up shop program that works in partnership with Blue Ocean Realty and the County’s Small Business Resource Center. Both current pop-up shop owners Tiffany Lockemy (Zallie’s Crafts) and Alison and Romeo Lee (Aleo & Co.) were present at the gala, along with Cary and Laura Quintana, whose Little Crystal Bijoux started as a pop-up, grew to a permanent space, and expanded to the building at 7 Center Place, which the Quintanas purchased in the Dundalk Main Street. That expansion was supported by a County BOOST loan, a State Neighborhood Business Works loan, and a Commercial Improvement grant provided by State Baltimore Regional Neighborhood Initiative funds from DRC.
Other DRC programs designed to strengthen Dundalk’s neighborhoods are Curb Appeal, which improved 11 homes on the same target block in Turner Station, DRC’s Energy Retrofit program, which increased energy efficiency for 119 households, and Vibrant Neighborhoods 0% Interest Renovation loan program, which has assisted 41 homeowners with substantial home improvements.
DRC’s 2016 distribution and planting of 600 trees at no charge was the highlight of our greening program. Our goal is to beautify properties, reduce energy costs, increase property values, reduce storm water runoff and to increase the future of Dundalk’s tree canopy.
DRC renovated 4 properties in 2016 in the Old Dundalk and Dun-Logan neighborhoods with support from Baltimore County and the State of Maryland. They are energy-efficient, beautiful and affordable, bringing the total number of DRC renovations to 17. Special financing made these homes affordable for low-to-middle income buyers, and the homes are concentrated in historic Dundalk in order to maximize the neighborhood impact of these greatly improved properties.
The DRC Market Boost Program, funded by Maryland’s Department of Housing and Community Development, further expands the number of affordable, well-done renovations in the community throughout 21222 by partnering with small developers in the area, providing funding to contribute to the costs of renovation, and providing the buyer with closing cost assistance. In 2015-16, 18 projects have been completed and sold so far, with our funding of $15,000 to $20,000 per home contributing to an average of $75,000 in increased value per home.
Finally, Amy described our marketing campaign to attract the next generation of residents to Dundalk, supported by a new brand and marketing platform, UnexpectedDundalk.com. To date as part of this campaign, DRC has produced 3 Dundalk Housing Fair and Neighborhood Tours events at Dundalk High School, 9 Neighborhood Close Up walking tours on Saturday mornings, 3 BE A BUYER workshops, all for potential new residents, and 2 Grant Education Happy Hours for lending and real estate professionals. With support from Baltimore County and the State of Maryland, in 2015-16, 65 home purchase incentive grants totaling $400,000 were awarded to new Dundalk home buyers. In 2015 alone, our grant programs stimulated home purchases that resulted in $3,147,809 in new mortgage business. Twenty more home buyers are using grants to purchase homes in Dundalk in 2016, and twenty more $5K home buyer grants will be available in 2017.