Lancaster City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday night to make application with the state for grants that will assist in renovations to the market house and for a restoration to the facades of the Stevens & Smith buildings, which adjoin the nascent Convention Center.
Central Market is expecting $3.5 million and the Historic Stevens & Smith project $3 million, under state funding promised by Governor Ed Rendell last August.
The Stevens & Smith Historic Site consists of the residence and law office of landmark U.S. political figure Thaddeus Stevens and his housekeeper and alleged consort, Lydia Hamtilton Smith. There is also a cistern at the site which the directors believe may have been used as part of the Underground Railroad. They plan multimedia historical exhibits at the site, ready to go by the time the Convention Center opens in March.
Gail Tomlinson, the Director of the Stevens & Smith Site, said that the $3 million grant will match $4.4 million that has been privately raised, and enable the project to go forward.
Mayor Rick Gray described Tuesday's approvals as a "formality," since the state edevelopment Capital Assistance Program (RCAP) earmarks have been in place for a while.
Also on Tuesday, City Council approved a resolution for Lancaster to apply to the federal government for "Preserve America Community" designation.
Preserve America is a program started under President George W. Bush that seeks to reward communities that take steps toward preserving their historical, cultural, and natural heritage.
It doesn't cost much of anything and allows the city to apply for certain kinds of federal funds, explains City Director of Economic Development & Neighborhood Revitalization, Randy Patterson.
Although the County of Lancaster already achieved this designation earlier in the year, the city's application will allow it to apply for funding and benefits directly.