2018 Application Process Now Closed for Facade Improvement Grant, Check Back this Winter for Updates on 2019 Deadlines
In a collaborative effort with the Columbia Heights Police Department, the Columbia Heights Economic Development Authority has created a Façade Improvement Grant Program for businesses along Central Ave. Commercial property owners from 44th to 37th Ave along Central Ave are eligible to submit a grant application.
The 2018 application deadline was July 27 (keep an eye on the City website and newsletter for updates on the 2019 submission window). 2018 grant recipients will be announced this fall.
The purpose of the grant program, funded by the EDA, is to encourage businesses and commercial property owners within the City’s central business district to revitalize, rehabilitate, and restore exterior store fronts. In an effort to reduce crime along Central Ave and enhance safety, the CHPD will also use the grant program to provide monitored surveillance adjacent to the businesses.
The grant program reimburses commercial property owners for eligible improvements up to 50 percent of the total project cost for a maximum reimbursement of $5,000. If determined by the Police Department that an exterior surveillance system is warranted, the EDA will install surveillance equipment to monitor participating businesses and properties, as well as parks and open spaces.
But even without the surveillance equipment, the façade improvements alone should reduce crime, said Police Chief Lenny Austin.
“Anytime we see significant cosmetic improvements to areas and neighborhoods, that helps reduce crime,” Austin said. “It shows businesses are willing to invest in those neighborhoods.”
“We want this program to encourage a cleaner, safer Central Avenue,” said Keith Dahl, community development manager. “The grant funds should help businesses replace signage, fix broken windows, correct brick or wall damage, replace exterior lighting and correct other aesthetic issues. The addition of video surveillance should help cut down on vandalism and other criminal activities that keep people away.”
Any commercial property from 44th to 37th Ave along Central Ave is eligible for this grant.
The grant program could help fund anywhere from six to 15 improvement projects, depending on the extent of the projects, Dahl said.
The program is part of a larger and ongoing mission to revitalize Central Ave and the City’s overall business community.
“We want to encourage a vibrant restaurant and bar community,” Dahl said. “We want Central Ave in Columbia Heights to become a thriving Twin Cities destination.”