City earmarks $10,000 for renovation of downtown storefronts
Published 8:00 am Friday, November 8, 2013
Downtown property and business owners, who are contemplating the renovation or major maintenance of their storefronts, will receive a helping hand from the City of Dowagiac.
Mayor Don Lyons announced this week that city council’s economic development budget for this year includes $10,000 to reinstate the Facade Incentive & Architectural Design Services Program, administered by the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).
“When Dowagiac began the redevelopment of its downtown 25 years ago, it put in place several key programs to encourage property and business owners to restore their building facades in a consistent and esthetically appropriate manner to the existing architectural structure, while at the same time giving them the flexibility to make sure their businesses were configured in a way that best served their needs,” Lyons said.
“Among those steps was the hiring of a full-time downtown development director and the creation of the DDA’s Design Review Committee, whose job it was to review proposed storefront remodeling plans and, if the proposed plans were satisfactory, to provide the property owner with seed money to help defray some of the renovation costs,” he said.
“During the first 15 years of the redevelopment of downtown Dowagiac, those incentive monies and architectural guidance played a key role in creating the central business district we have today. In later years, as most of the buildings were remodeled, the storefront renovation effort became less important and the use of the facade incentive funds dwindled.”
“Now 25 years later, a critical examination of our downtown leads to the inevitable conclusion that a freshening up is in order,” Lyons said. “To encourage the continued upgrade of downtown storefronts, City Council earmarked $10,000 to reinstate the facade program.”
According to City Manager Kevin Anderson and DDA program director Vickie Phillipson, the revised program is being administered on a matching funds basis. Phillipson said property and business owners, who make application to the DDA are eligible to receive an incentive of up to $2,000 for the front renovation of their building. Owners of twin or double storefronts are eligible to receive up to $3,000.
Phillipson said she is looking forward to working with downtown property and business owners to help them undertake needed upgrades to their storefronts.
She said the program is being administered on a first come, first serve basis. Program guidelines and applications were issued this week to commercial property owners and tenants, located within the DDA district. Applications are also available at the offices of the DDA and Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce, located in the historic train depot or by calling (269) 782-8212.