Cumberland area to be demolished for new commercial development

Targeted section in Rolling Mills to be leveled by PennTex Ventures, LLC.

CUMBERLAND, Md. - In an effort to bring in new business, the Cumberland Economic Development Corporation partnered with a real estate and construction company to develop new commercial property.

From Pennsylvania, PennTex Ventures LLC, is pursuing a targeted section of the Rolling Mills area of Cumberland to “bring a quality redevelopment scenario to completion.”

To complete this redevelopment, PennTex will demolish approximately 60 homes in the Rolling Mills area, specifically between Emily and Williams Street and Maryland Avenue.  

The coordinator for Cumberland’s Development Corporation, Shawn Hershberger, said this could potentially increase the quality of life for hundreds of people to come.

“The end game is commercial redevelopment, job creation, increased tax base, and the long term goal is this site will be something benefits everyone in the city,” Hershberger said.

"This will continue the commercial growth, while at the same time improving an important gateway into our community," Hershberger added.

Hershberger said they've offered several people the tax assessed value of their home to buy, plus additional money to help with moving expenses in the target area.

Many residents Tuesday said they are upset and feel like they’re being forced out of their homes, while others said they’re ready to leave.

Larry Darby, a Rolling Mills resident, said he’s lived in his house for nearly 30 years.

“Why do we have to move? We just paid our last mortgage payment. Just when we thought in our lifetime we can sit back take it easy, they're telling us more or less, 'you got to get out and get another mortgage,'” Darby said.

Darby said he first moved in that area because the city wanted to revitalize that neighborhood, and he put hundreds of dollars into fixing up his home. 

“It be so terrible to look upon - this down through here being all leveled, where is this house that we grew up in, and where is this house we've instilled values in our kids in,” Darby added.

The development corporation offered Darby $25,500 for his home, plus an additional $5,000 for moving expenses. While this is what Darby's home was assessed for, he said its a very low figure due to some other residents in the area accepting the corporation's offer. Darby said this reflects the value of his home as well. 

Though Darby and many other residents said they are willing to fight the demolition process Tuesday, many others said this is their golden opportunity to get out of a spiraling downward community.

For example, a person was stabbed and was transported to a hospital Monday at the 7-Eleven on Maryland Avenue. 

“We’re trying to handle everything on a case by case basis,” Hershberger said. “We want anything that happens on this site for everyone to be happy.”

The Cumberland Economic Development Corporation is a nonprofit organization overseeing economic development efforts within the city of Cumberland.

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