MADISON — Officials are applying for a federal grant to clean up an area of town recently deemed by the state to be blighted.
The building at 87 Main St. was destroyed in a fire in March 2012, leaving a gaping hole where there most recently was an antique shop.
The property has since been bought by Robert Hagopian, who also owns the buildings on either side of the lot, and who wants to revitalize the area. His next-door trophy and gun shop, Economy Trophy at 93 Main St., recently was expanded by 18,000 square feet and now includes an indoor archery range.
A public hearing will be held Monday to discuss application for the grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The hearing will be part of the regularly scheduled selectmen’s meeting and will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Old Point Avenue school.
“We hope to get rid of this ugly eyesore seen as you head into the downtown — that’s the number one thing, and make the property safer,” said Tim Curtis, the town’s director of economic development. “The property owner will still own the property, but we want to help him remove this burned debris and make it look a lot better downtown.”
In February, the town and the Maine Office of Community Development deemed the area blighted, a term that designates abandoned industrial or residential buildings that may contribute to other buildings being unoccupied or poor public health and safety conditions, according to the office website.
Curtis said the town has started the application process for the grant, which would be for $25,000. A public hearing is a requirement in the application process.
Work paid for with the money would include filling a dropoff between the sidewalk and the property — which is about 10 feet deep — and also remove burned debris from the side of the 93 Main St. building and fix five boarded-up windows, he said.
The 2012 fire was ruled to be arson by the Office of the State Fire Marshal. The late-night blaze required crews from nine fire departments to extinguish it.
Hagopian said he doesn’t have any firm plans yet for redeveloping the hole, but said he bought the property in order to have a monopoly on that part of the street. Hagopian moved the business into 93 Main St. last year and expanded to include an indoor archery range.
“I’m putting all my money into that place right now and I’m really not focused on the hole in the ground,” said Hagopian, 67. “Hopefully it will be a success and then I can start to focus on the other properties.”
The Community Development Block Grant program is one of the longest running programs at HUD, according to their website. The goal of the grants, which must be applied for through local governments, is to help communities across the U.S. tackle problems such as poverty, housing overcrowding and aging housing.
Rachel Ohm — 612-2368 firstname.lastname@example.org