In a seven-year period beginning in 2009, the Danville Business Alliance awarded $111,000 in facade grants through its Main Street Program to assist 30 commercial building restoration project in the downtown Main Street District. Overwhelming demand had consumed almost all of the funding when the program expired on June 30, 2016.
The program’s success was due to its comprehensive yet flexible features, including:
– Liberal eligibility: It was open to all commercial property and business owners in the Main Street District. Commercial tenants were eligible if they obtained the written consent of the building owner.
– Multi-facade application: Improvements to both side and ear business facades were also eligible, if the building had a side or rear business entrance open to the public.
– Significant funding assistance: The grants matched the renovation costs dollar for dollar up to 50 percent of the total project, not to exceed a total reimbursement of $5,000 per business facade.
– Broad range of eligible improvements: Examples which were eligible were signs, awnings, repair and/or restoration of storefront exteriors including facade painting and the cost of professional design services.
– Fee exemption: While an administrative fee was usually charged at the time of application, DBA members were exempt.
– Local control: A comprehensive set of Facade Design Guidelines was developed and implemented by the DBA Design Committee, comprised of local business owners. The Committee reviewed the applications, determined eligibility, provided design guidance and approved the buildings to receive assistance. Projects were evaluated on the basis of quality, design compatibility and the level of visual and economic impact.
Such improvement made the business district more inviting for current and new shoppers, businesses and residents; stimulated further improvements in the surrounding, largely residential areas; and preserved the historic character and architecture of downtown Danville.
The DBA plans to apply again this summer to the Department of Community and Economic Development for up to $50,000 in additional facade grant funding to address the unmet renovation needs in the Main Street District. If approved, it is expected that the design guidelines and application process will be similar to those used through 2016.
In order for the application to be as competitive as possible, DBA will need to document the demand for facade funding in the Main Street District. This will mean providing names of the interested parties, their addresses, the types of proposed improvements and the estimated project costs. To assist in this process, DBA is asking all interested building/business owners and commercial tenants in the Main Street District to contact the DBA office and provide that information by June 16.
For questions or additional information about the facade grant program, please contact Jim Wilson, DBA Executive Director, at the DBA office at 570-284-4503 or stop in at 346 Mill St., Danville. Normal business hours are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.