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January 11, 2013

City gets $3M grant for Fort project

A $3 million grant from MassWorks infrastructure — announced Thursday, two months after the state agency turned down Gloucester’s initial $5 million application — brings the city closer to the level of funding needed to carry out a $7.5 million infrastructure and utility project for the Fort neighborhood while the Beauport Gloucester hotel proposal moves forward.

The state, which shot down Gloucester’s initial request in November, granted the funds to Gloucester on a second review — a second look that Gloucester for which Gloucester is thankful, Mayor Carolyn Kirk said Thursday.

”This project is one of only a few that can serve as a change agent for the local economy,” Kirk said. “A downtown hotel is a key part of the business infrastructure we are putting in place to support the city’s emerging marine science and technology economic sector.”

Gloucester will chip in the remaining $4.5 million for infrastructure repair that would cover sorely needed roadway improvements, a water pump station and utility upgrades along Commercial Street and around the former Birdseye industrial site that now includes a hotel overlay zone and is targeted for the planned hotel. Kirk proposed a financing plan for the city’s portion to city councilors yesterday.

”As we have done so successfully on a number of important projects for the city,” Kirk wrote in a letter to councilors, “we have pulled together a public/private partnership which, when taken together, provides the resources to rebuild the infrastructure which will benefit the businesses along Commercial Street, the residences in Fort Square, and support new growth and economic development for the city.”

The Kirk administration intends to fund the project with a combination of the MassWorks grant, money extended by the Beauport LLC developers advancing the hotel, water and sewer enterprise funds, surplus revenue from the city’s “free cash” account, and money from the city’s general fund.

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