Downtown Berwick Enhancement Group Seeking Façade Projects

As part of the Building a Better Berwick enhancement plan, the Berwick: The Next Step Steering Committee is exploring applying for a state grant to help improve commercial properties in the downtown area. If approved, matching funds of up to $5,000 could be available for signs, repair and restoration of storefronts, and the cost of professional design services. Business and property owners in the downtown area are invited to submit project ideas as part of the grant application process.

Through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Keystone Communities Program, façade grants of up to $50,000 are available to municipalities and economic development organizations. Funding may be allocated to a business location for up to fifty percent (50%) of the total project not to exceed total reimbursement of $5,000 per storefront. Anyone who owns or leases commercial property in the designated downtown program area (Berwick’s C-3 and C-3A zoning districts) would be eligible.

Additional program details including a map of the program area are available at ColumbiaMontourChamber.com/facade.

The grant application to the state requires a demonstration of interest. Business and property owners should send basic project ideas with estimated costs to The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce, Attn: Fred Gaffney, 238 Market Street, Bloomsburg, 17815 by Friday, Aug. 30. Contractor quotes, designs, etc. are not required for the initial application.

Based on sufficient interest, the grant application would likely be submitted in early 2020, with funds to be available later in the year. Projects would have to be completed within six months of local approval and funds would be disbursed following the submission of appropriate documentation demonstrating project completion. Any projects completed or started prior to local approval would not be eligible for reimbursement.

If the grant is approved, a local sub-group would review applications, determine eligibility, and approve the buildings to receive assistance. Projects will be evaluated on the basis of quality, design compatibility, and the level of visual and economic impact. If more applications are received than there is money available, grants would be awarded from available funds on a first-come, first-serve basis to eligible applicants.

Berwick: The Next Step, is an organized effort to enhance the greater Berwick area through a focus on the downtown commercial district. Members of the Steering Committee represent Berwick-area businesses and non-profit organizations. The Steering Committee coordinated the development of the Building a Better Berwick plan and is overseeing implementation of the recommendations in the plan.