eMacomb - Redevelopment News, Spring 2016
Local governments offering façade improvement grants to revitalize downtowns
Several Macomb County communities are offering exceptional incentives to businesses for façade improvements. These programs encourage regular investment in maintenance and upkeep, resulting in revitalized downtown areas.
The city of Center Line has implemented a façade improvement program managed through their Downtown Development Authority (DDA) which offers matching grants. In the past four years, the DDA has approved more than $80,000 for 10 area businesses to improve the look of their buildings. Four businesses in the past year have made improvements, receiving matching grants of more than $35,000.
“Two of our most recent projects have created significant impact on Van Dyke,” said Center Line City Manager Dennis Champine. “These were Center Line Heating and Cooling and their neighbor, Martin’s Deli. These two businesses are next door to each other, so an entire block of buildings received exterior upgrades.”
The Mount Clemens DDA established their façade grant program late last year. This program assists commercial property owners looking to improve the appearance of their buildings in Mount Clemens’ walkable downtown. It aims to make revitalization efforts affordable, creative and community-based. Approved applicants can receive a matching grant of up to $10,000 for eligible façade improvements.
“By leveraging private dollars, the DDA is excited to offer a program that provides a visible, tangible investment to the downtown district,” said Mount Clemens Community Development Director Brian Tingley.
The city of Richmond currently offers three incentive programs to businesses within their Tax Increment Finance Authority (TIFA) District. Project Clean-Up is a simple annual program that offers a $2,000 reimbursement grant every year if at least $3,000 is spent on exterior improvements to a building. There is also the option for an established business to apply to use future money (up to five years) up front, essentially spending $20,000 and being reimbursed $10,000.
Richmond’s Downtown Revitalization Program is intended to rehabilitate vacant buildings. It offers a maximum reimbursement award of up to $15,000 at a 50 percent reimbursement rate. Up to 30 percent of the grant may go toward interior upgrades such as HVAC, plumbing, electrical work and mold remediation. The Façade Loan Program helps pay down interest on a business improvement loan obtained through a bank.
By offering these progressive programs, these communities are assisting established businesses, improving downtowns and creating an attractive environment for companies looking to invest.