The Eastern Shore Conservation Center brings new life to a complex of long-vacant historic buildings in Easton, Maryland. The 23,000 square foot campus is a hub for environmental nonprofit organizations, anchored by Eastern Shore Land Conservancy.
ESLC’s mission is to preserve and sustain the vibrant communities of Maryland’s Eastern Shore and the lands and waters that connect them. To date, the organization reports that it has helped protect more than 56,000 acres of farms, forests and wetlands. Along with its headquarters, the center also houses the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Nature Conservancy and several other nonprofit organizations, as well as public gathering space, a café and four workforce rental apartments. The renovated buildings meet both historic and green building standards.
Reinvestment Fund provided $6 million in New Markets Tax Credit financing, and a $3.1 million bridge loan to several public and private funding sources, including state and local grants and individual contributions. The project aligns with the Town of Easton’s smart growth strategy and connects to other efforts to revitalize the west side of town, home to several low-income Latino and African-American neighborhoods. This is TRF’s first investment in the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
The project grew out of ESLC’s Center for Towns initiative, a relatively new effort to preserve the Eastern Shores small towns by providing planning and economic development expertise to rural municipalities that want to build new parks and streetscapes or make other improvements to foster development.