Eight Businesses to Receive Funding through New Grant Program

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Grant Program To Help Revitalize Exterior Store Fronts
Eight businesses along Central Ave will be getting facelifts this year with help from Columbia Heights’ new Façade Improvement Grant Program. A collaborative effort between the Columbia Heights Police Department and Economic Development Authority, the grant program is meant to encourage businesses and commercial property owners within the city’s central business district to revitalize, rehabilitate, and restore exterior store fronts.

Out of the twelve businesses that applied for the grant this summer, the EDA picked eight to receive funding: Bad Hombre, Big Cutz Barbershop, Chet’s Shoes, Hartley Law Offices, McAlpin Agency, Midas Auto Repair, Northeast Auto Body, and Rapid Graphics & Mailing.

Funded through the EDA, the grant program will reimburse commercial property owners for eligible improvements up to 50 percent of the total project cost for a maximum reimbursement of $5,000. Proposed improvements include window and door replacements, lighting and awning installation and repair, renovated signage, exterior painting, professional cleaning, and re-siding.

Projects will start once the grant agreements are finalized between the EDA and the businesses, which should happen in early September. Grantees will then be given 60 days to complete the façade improvements. The EDA wants all projects completed by the end of the year. 

This year’s applications were reviewed and scored based upon completion, eligibility, quality of design, and the capacity of the applicant to finish the project within 2018.

Off to Good Start, With Possible Expansion Next Year
Since this is the inaugural year of the program, it was hard to predict how interested businesses might be, said Keith Dahl, community development manager.  

“We were pleasantly surprised,” Dahl said. “Not only did this project spark interest with local businesses, it also got the attention of businesses in the greater metropolitan region. Business owners from neighboring cities called to ask about the possibility of being eligible for the program if they were to relocate to Columbia Heights.”

The EDA and the City plan to offer the grant program annually each summer, giving businesses other chances to apply if they missed the deadline this year. The EDA is also considering expanding grant eligibility to businesses in other commercial corridors throughout the city, Dahl said.

In an effort to reduce crime along Central Ave and enhance safety, the CHPD will use the grant program to provide monitored surveillance adjacent to the businesses. Anywhere from five to 15 security cameras will be installed as part of the grant funding, though the locations and total number of cameras won’t be decided until September.

The city will start taking applications for the 2019 Façade Improvement Grant Program this spring.

For more details on the projects that will receive funding and the funding allocations, go here.