I am a business tenant operating from a commercial building in the eligible geography. Can I apply for participation in the program, or do I have to own the building?
Eligible business tenants can apply to be given consideration for the program. If you do not own the property, the owner must complete and notarize an Owner Consent Form authorizing the improvements to the property.
What types of projects are eligible to apply?
The program seeks to provide assistance to projects that involve true architectural renovations to the exterior of commercial buildings as well as projects that bring parking, landscaping and signage into conformance with current codes. For example, projects that are adding new windows and storefront entrances; installing decorative lighting and metal canopies; removing asphalt and installing trees and evergreen shrubs, etc., are eligible to apply. Design elements such as decorative lighting, murals and mosaics are encouraged where appropriate. Every project is different and applications are considered based on the unique characteristics of each project. It can be helpful to view projects that have participated in the program in the past to understand the types of improvements you should be considering.
What are projects that “bring parking and landscaping into conformance with current codes?”
Older buildings in our urban areas were built prior to implementation of current land development and urban street design guidelines. For example, many locations in the priority business corridors have asphalt parking lots that start at the back of the curb and go all the way to the front door, around the building, and to the back of the site with no trees or other landscaping on the site. Today’s current codes often require, among other things, that parking and asphalt be moved farther away from the curb, trees be planted along the street and in parking lots, shrubs be planted to “screen” the parking area, etc. Projects that remove asphalt and install green space, tree islands, planting strips, and sidewalks where none previously existed “bring those sites into conformance with current codes.”
All I need is a new sign for my business. Can I apply for grant funds for this?
When grandfathered signage is present on a site and the new sign will remove and replace the old sign, then the façade improvement grant program can be applied for. Grandfathered signs are those that were installed prior to the implementation of the current sign ordinance and that do not meet the requirements of the current ordinance. By removing the grandfathered sign, the grant program is helping bring signs into conformance with the current ordinance. Other types of signage are not eligible for participation in the grant program.
I need to make parking lot improvements. Can I participate in the program?
Parking improvements are only eligible if they include removing non-conforming conditions. For example, removing parking from the setback and installing green space, installing trees within the required distance of every parking space, and installing shrubs to screen parking from the public right-of-way are the types of improvements that would help bring sites into conformance with current codes. As such, these types of parking improvements are eligible for consideration. In addition, making ADA improvements such as adding ADA parking spaces, signage, and connectivity to the building would also be improvements we would consider. Although every project is different, simply repairing, repaving, striping or installing new asphalt in and of themselves are not eligible for participation in the program. It can be helpful to review the site improvements section of the design guidelines to understand the types of parking improvements you should be considering.
Is repairing a leaking roof or performing other maintenance eligible for grant funds?
Building maintenance, such as repairing a leaking roof, replacing broken glass, and replacing rotten wood are not eligible for participation in the grant program. If, however, these repairs are part of a larger scope of work they may be considered. For example, a project that involves a complete renovation of the exterior including adding new storefront windows and doors, adding decorative lighting, installing green space, street trees and tree islands, while at the same time repairing broken glass is eligible to apply. It can be helpful to view projects that have participated in the program in the past to understand the types of improvements you should be considering.
Is there a deadline for submitting an application?
Applications are reviewed quarterly. Application deadlines occur on February 15th, May 15th, August 15th and November 15th of each year. Applications must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on the application deadline for consideration that quarter. If the deadline falls on a weekend, then the application should be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on the following business day.
When will I learn if my application has been approved or not?
Applicants will receive a response to their application within thirty days of the quarterly application deadline or as soon as possible thereafter.
Once my application is approved, when will I receive grant funds?
Once your grant application is approved we will enter into a grant contract with you for 50% of your project cost estimates up to the maximum award amount allowed by the program, whichever is less. The grant funds are reimbursed to you when several things occur, including but not limited to your completion of the project in its entirety and payment of your contractors in full. Upon completion of your project you must submit copies of canceled checks and paid invoices for review. Once your project is fully completed and you have met all program and contract guidelines, including submitting copies of your canceled checks, the grant funds will be remitted to you.
What happens if my application is denied?
If your application is denied the Façade Grant Review Team will provide you with suggestions on what you can do differently to be considered for participation in the grant program such that you can reapply in the future. Often this will involve expanding your proposed scope of work. It can be helpful to view projects that have participated in the program in the past to understand the types of improvements you should be considering.
I’ve already made the improvements to my building. Can I apply for participation in the grant program retroactively?
Costs incurred prior to application approval and grant contract signing are not eligible for reimbursement under the program.
What if my building is under code enforcement, can I still apply?
You can apply for participation in the program if your property is under code enforcement, but the City reserves the right to, among other things, require you to be in full compliance before approving or funding your project. Generally, improvements to your building that meet minimum building code requirements will be considered maintenance and will not be eligible for participation in the program. Projects that include a larger scope of work, however, may be considered.
I participated in the façade grant program in the past. Can I reapply?
If you did not use the maximum award amount when you last participated in the grant program you can apply for the program again up to the residual amount remaining. If you did use the maximum amount when you participated in the program you can reapply after ten years.
Are there other grant programs that I can apply for?
Visit the Business Financial Programs page to learn about other available programs you may consider applying for.