|
|
|
Morning Sun
  • Facade grants continue with Phase III

  • Downtown buildings often reflect the direction of a community, and the City of Pittsburg has made a point of investing in the revitalization of the downtown area.

    • email print
  • Downtown buildings often reflect the direction of a community, and the City of Pittsburg has made a point of investing in the revitalization of the downtown area.
    In recent years the city has completed two rounds of facade grants, with $200,000 per phase given in matching grant funds to downtown business owners who asked for the assistance to fix up the exteriors of their buildings.
    "The reason that we did it was we felt like there was so much momentum
    downtown," Benson said.
    He cited the first two rounds of facade grants, the streetscape project, the hiring of a downtown development director and the arts events that now are taking place downtown as some of the factors in the momentum.
    "With everything they're now bringing, it seemed like the wrong time to stop
    investing in downtown," Benson said.
    Phase II of the city’s facade grants wrapped up this spring, and at that time it was expected to the be the end of the facade grant project, but continued inquiries and requests led to conversation about implementing a third phase.
    "We started getting several businesses that wanted to invest in their corner of downtown," Benson said.
    He said downtown development director Jeff Wilbert also heard a lot of interest expressed in another round of facade grants, with at least seven or eight businesses stating that they would be ready to begin work if a Phase III were granted.
    Formal discussion regarding another phase began about eight weeks ago and the Economic Development Advisory Committee discussed the prospect in June, then asked for input from businesses following that meeting. At their July 10 meeting, the EDAC issued a recommendation to move forward with Phase III.
    Benson brought the proposal to the Pittsburg City Commission Tuesday and council members asked a few logistical questions, but reacted favorably.
    “The city never had any hesitation on whether it would be a good investment,” Benson said.
    Among the questions asked and logistics discussed at the meeting was the change that will allow projects already in process to remain eligible for funds.
    Benson said Phase III was unexpected, and the EDAC did not want to exempt property owners who took the initiative to begin work before the policy caught up
    with the momentum.
    "We didn't feel they should be penalized because they weren't waiting for something
    Benson said projects eligible for facade grant funds, which will be issued out of the city’s revolving loan fund, include window work, painting and other improvements.
    Another significant difference for Phase III is that the fund allocation is smaller than in previous rounds, and Benson said that is because it is a very focused project with an 18-month window requiring all projects to be complete and all reimbursements dispersed by Dec. 31, 2014.
    Page 2 of 2 - "The EDAC thought that amount, based on the projects that have been submitted, they felt that $50,000 was enough."

        calendar