Plans to bring a workforce housing complex to downtown Brunswick have stalled for at least another year.
Developers behind Railroad Square, a proposed complex that could bring 51 apartments and retail space to South Maple Avenue and West Potomac Street, did not receive the tax credits they needed to move forward.
The 9 percent tax credits, awarded by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, are highly competitive, said Bruce Zavos, of Zavos Architecture and Design, who sits on the county’s Affordable Housing Council.
Of the 47 applications that the housing department received, 15 received the tax credits, including one in Frederick. The county overall had six projects seek the tax credits. Only the one in Frederick, South Center Street, received them.
Without these tax credits, affordable housing projects cannot advance, Zavos said. The tax credits allow developers to offer lower rents, making the apartments available to those who qualify for affordable housing. In Frederick County, that means making 60 percent or less of the county’s average median income.
There are no other programs available that offer similar credits, Zavos said.
In Brunswick, things are a bit up in the air in terms of Railroad Square.
T. Wesley Poss, president of Verdant Development Group, said that his group plans to apply again for the tax credits next time.
He was not entirely surprised by the decision because of the climate around the Railroad Square project. While Brunswick’s government sent a letter of support this year, the project had previously been derailed after the community protested it.
Scot Lessler, who owns some of the buildings that would be turned into the complex, said right now it’s a wait-and-see approach. He is to meet with the developers to hear more about their plans.
For Brunswick, the delay potentially brings a blow. Railroad Square had been touted as an opportunity to spur revitalization in downtown Brunswick.
“Any time there’s development that’s going to occur in and around downtown, it’s disappointing it’s not going to go,” City Administrator David Dunn said.
One reason was the foot traffic the development could bring, Zavos said.
“I always believed this was a catalyst for that transformation in Brunswick,” he said.
Zavos is disappointed that Brunswick, as well as the other four projects, did not receive tax credits, he said.
“I’m still surprised that Brunswick, in particular, did not get funded because it had such a compelling story,” he said.