The Connellsville Redevelopment Authority board has approved loans for two retail developments – one planned and one under construction.
The action came following an executive session at Monday’s meeting.
Each is for a term of five years with zero per cent interest and a lump sum repayment, said executive director Michael Edwards.
In a 4-to-1 vote, the board approved a $20,000 loan for a storage facility project at 314 S. Pittsburgh St.
He received support from Bob Lubic, Joseph Mancuso, Leigh Ann Lincoln and President Robert Flockvich. Carol Tiberio voted no.
Ronald Haggerty, appearing on behalf of Yough Storage, said construction costs were higher than expected for the 180-foot-wide, 25-foot-deep building that will house 15 units.
He said equipment such as HardiePlank siding and electrical work have driven up costs, adding that commercial loan interest rates have risen sharply.
Haggerty said the facility would be a good building for Connellsville.
He said the owners paid off a previous loan of $20,000. Asking for “as much as possible”, Haggerty said the owners would pay off a loan as quickly as possible.
Developer Kevin Leonard attended the meeting in an effort to secure two commercial loans.
The Service Master Restore owner received a $25,000 interest-free loan to help him purchase a property at 257 N. Sixth St. that contains a residential structure and block building.
Board members unanimously approved the loan.
The property, in a mixed-use zoning district, is adjacent to Yough River Park and the Great Allegheny Passage Trail, Edwards said.
Leonard said he intended to remodel the building block and use it to sell food, snacks, drinks and fishing bait. The residential structure would become an Airbnb rental facility.
The council did not act on a request involving plans for 310 N. Third St. and 208 N. Third St., parcels for which Leonard has sales agreements.
Both contain residential structures and are near the site of a dilapidated mansion at 223 N. Third St. that Leonard, through AriRoryMilo Holdings, purchased and razed.
He received a loan from the Redevelopment Authority of $50,000 to help defray the cost of 223. N. Third.
Leonard plans to build a multi-story building at 223 N. Third that will house a restaurant, brewery, offices, and retail space. He has already obtained a liquor license for the project.
Plots 310 N. Third and 208 N. Third would be used for parking and an event lawn, Edwards said.
By not following up on the other request, the board wanted to see if other people and businesses could benefit from the money from the loan fund, he said.
Leonard has other projects in the works, though he has yet to reveal the details of those plans.
In the past year, he bought and demolished the old Mile Marker Café & Lounge at 502 W. Crawford Ave. and the former Italian Independent Social Club building at 400 W. Crawford.
Both are on the west side of town.
Leonard recently received a $500,000 grant from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program for a planned micro-resort along Great Allegheny Passage.
It carries a 100% financial match requirement. Leonard had asked for $2 million.
The City of Connellsville acted as an intermediary for the RCAP grant initiative.
The money for the loans came from a grant from the Hillman Foundation and can be obtained to benefit businesses and first-time home buyers in the city.
Zero-interest loans of up to $25,000 with inflated five-year repayments are available for people opening or renovating businesses.
The minimum project size is $100,000.
The authority’s first-time home buyer’s loan program can be used in conjunction with a program offered by Fayette County’s Uniontown-based Redevelopment Authority to create greater benefits.
Under the Connellsville Authority Program, first-time buyers can receive up to $10,000 for down payments and closing costs.
A first-time home buyer’s loan from the Connellsville Redevelopment Authority bears a zero percent interest rate and is non-repayable until the property is sold or the owner dies , Edwards said.
Loans from county authorities can be larger, but require at least 3% participation from buyers, he said.
The programs are available to people who qualify under the income guidelines.