By Mike McClure

The Laurel Redevelopment Corporation (LRC) worked on a number of projects last year. President Barry Morrison believes a number of those projects will come to fruition this year.

“I think the year 2024 is really going to be our year,” he said during LRC’s 32nd annual meeting and banquet last Tuesday at Abbott’s on Broad Creek in Laurel.

Laurel Redevelopment Corporation Executive Director Brian Shannon spoke about the projects the organizations are working on, as well as its accomplishments from 2023, during last Tuesday’s annual meeting in Laurel. Photo by Mike McClure

Among the projects the organization will be working on in the new year are: shoreline improvements around Venables Park, improvements at Central Station (the former A and K building), the construction of 31 homes, and the completion of Tidewater Park. Last year the LRC office was renovated.

Executive Director Brian Shannon outlined some of the organization’s accomplishments which include: starting the  process of creating a strategic plan, developing a plan for properties on Broad Creek, renovating Central Station, renovating the Fullerton property at 102 Front Street (behind A Father’s Heart), and began work on plans for four houses on the former Christ United Methodist Church on Central Avenue. 

According to Shannon, work was underway at Central Station when buried underground fuel tanks were found. They have since been removed.

LRC purchased property at 504 South Central Ave located next to the former Christ United Methodist Church (510 S. Central Ave.). Laurel Historical Society members and other volunteers helped clean out the house.

LRC received $229,000 from the community development fund and will build four houses on the properties which it will sell at market rate.

The houses will be representative of houses that are in Laurel now: Victorian, Federal, Craftsman, and Bungalow.

The organization has also applied for a Downtown Development Grant of $660,000. It is pursuing an opportunity for a bridge grant for its planned 28 unit duplex on West Front Street. Those homes will be single family starter homes that will be sold as affordable market homes based on Sussex County’s median income.

LRC is also working on its comprehensive plan for the preservation of the Rosemont home. Work will take place in the next few months and will include updating two chimneys and replacing roofs.

 Board Member Ed Lewandowski spoke about the organization’s community involvement event: Paint Laurel Plein Air, which is going into its third year. 

During the event, artists paint landscapes outdoors. Last year’s event in Laurel resulted in the sale of $6,000 worth of art purchased.

This year’s event will take place May 10-11 (the first day is for artists only). The artists will paint from sunrise to 11 a.m. On May 11 visitors will take part in an art walk and will be able to purchase art.

The Tidewater Park will add its final pieces this year. This includes a Rainbow Crow, Zipline, and Squirrel Council.

Shannon said LRC’s 2024 goals include,  starting construction of the 28 homes and four home projects, completing Central Station renovations, continuing East Front Street development, and completing the master plan for other LRC properties.

At the beginning of the meeting the following Board of Directors were elected: Ned Fowler, Ann Lee, Ed Lewandowski, Bill McGowan, Barry Morrison, Matt Parker, Don Phillips, Brian Shannon, Melinda Tingle, Artez West, and Robert Wheatley. Robert Thompson is Director Emeritus.