CLEVELAND, TN –The city of Cleveland was given notice that it was not a 2019 recipient of the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development Grant, or BUILD Grant, from the U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT). The city’s $17 million grant application would have funded the revitalization of the Inman Street corridor and a downtown greenway connection.
The BUILD Grant provides a unique opportunity for the US DOT to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve national objectives. Previously known as Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER Discretionary Grants, Congress has dedicated nearly $7.1 billion for ten rounds of National Infrastructure Investments to fund projects that have a significant local or regional economic impact.
Mayor Kevin Brooks commented, “While we are disappointed in not receiving the grant, our research and conversations with state and federal representatives shows that most communities have to apply multiple times to be awarded the Build Grant. US DOT likes to see long term commitment on a project before awarding grant funds. I feel our City Council, City staff, and myself are confident that we will be awarded this grant in the future. We will meet with our US DOT representatives, US Senators, and US Representatives in January and see where we can improve our application, then make an all-out effort to educate and gain insight into the goals of USDOT and federal elected officials in implementing the project to help put us near the top of the list in 2020. We are just getting started.”
City Manager Joe Fivas also added, “this is a minor bump in the road. The good news is city staff has a contingency plan that will not delay the Inman Street revitalization project even one week. We discussed this plan at our last city council meeting. We intend to ask the City Council to begin the low-cost, environmental review which is federally required by the National Environment Policy Act known as (NEPA). We estimate this process will take roughly one year to complete. Then, we can reapply for the Build Grant next year in 2020 and be one year closer to project completion.”
City BUILD Grant point person Greg Thomas commented, “We have an award-winning downtown redevelopment plan, we put forth a very strong BUILD Grant application, we had recommendations from all of our Congressional delegation, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, and others. It’s only a matter time when our number gets pulled on this transformational revitalization project.”
The City will meet with our congressional delegation in January 2020 and put together an action plan to pursue a Build Grant for next year. The timetable for this next funding cycle will be announced as early as May 2020. The City will also look at other state and federal grants that will compliment and lower the costs and scope of this project.
The US DOT announced that the city of Memphis was the only Tennessee city that was awarded a BUILD grant.