The City of Belfast has been selected to receive a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant, which will be used to redevelop a 6.5 acre area of the downtown.

City Planner Wayne Marshall said the money will allow the city to redevelop the area, which is framed by Cross Street, Federal Street, Front Street, and Miller Street, as well as several City parks — Belfast Common, Heritage Park, and Steamboat Landing. The improvements would include creating on-street parking and improving the storm water drainage system in the area.

Five communities applied for the grant, but Belfast was the only municipality selected to receive funding.

“This project would add about 40 on-street parking spaces and we would be looking at widening the sidewalks,” Marshall said.

With the addition of on-street parking and wider sidewalks, Marshall noted Cross Street, which is currently open to two-way traffic, might be changed to a one-way road.

Thomas Kittredge, economic development director and lead writer for the grant, said once the project is completed it will help to better connect the area to the rest of Main Street.

Marshall said the downtown area is quickly filling up, which means the city is looking at expanding into the outer sections of the downtown area. The hope is that by improving the 6.5 acre area then that section of the city will become more attractive to potential businesses.

According to the grant narrative, the project is estimated to cost $807,472 and the city will contribute $125,000 from a Maine Department of Transportation Quality Community Grant, $107,472 from general taxation and $75,000 from a Communities for Maine’s Future grant.

“We’ll do some public hearings to get input from residents, but this really was a team effort,” Kittredge said. “We couldn’t have done it without the support of the local businesses.”

If the project continues to move forward at a reasonable rate then Marshall anticipated work could begin as early as the spring of 2013.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or bholbrook@courierpublicationsllc.com