DDA offering incentive to business owners

Published 8:00 am Friday, April 1, 2016

With the onset of spring comes the opportunity to refresh tired and drab storefronts, replace deteriorated wood, power wash and tuck point brick surfaces and rejuvenate the building with a fresh coat of paint.

While this is more than just spring cleaning, 
thanks to Mayor and Council, the Downtown
Development Authority (DDA) offers financial
assistance to downtown building owners who
renovate their front facades. Monies appropriated
by Council from the City’s economic development
budget, to reinstate the $10,000 Facade Incentive
& Architectural Design Services Program, have
been used to rejuvenate such properties as downtown’s Smoke Vision Care.

Vickie Phillipson, DDA and Chamber of Commerce program director, said Dowsett Chiropractic Health Center is a current program participant, as work there finishes up this spring.

“When Dowagiac began the redevelopment of its downtown 27 years ago, it put in place several key programs to encourage property and business owners to restore their buildings 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,” Mayor 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.

“During the first 15 years of the redevelopment of our downtown, 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 importance of the storefront renovation effort became less important and the use of the facade incentive funds dwindled.”

Today’s incentive encourages the continued upgrade of storefronts, as it helps property owners address the wear and tear their buildings have encountered over the last 27 years. The revised program is being administered on a matching funds basis. Property and business owners 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. Previously, the incentive was only $1,000.