City Approves 2017 Facade Improvement Grant Program

Freeport, Illinois — The 2017 Facade Improvement Grant Program was adopted at the Monday evening city council meeting this week. Nancy McDonald, Freeport’s Economic and Community Development Director said that this year the program has a total of $30,000 available to downtown property owners.

The $30,000 is comprised of $20,000 in downtown TIF funds and an additional $10,000 from the Paint the Port event that took place this summer.

McDonald stated the program will offer Grants of up to 50% of a project, with a max of 10,000 for single Facade and $15,000 for two primary Facades. McDonald says through the program downtown property owners can rehab, repair or restore their Facades.

Grants will be paid on a reimbursement basis.

Applications will be available December 5th thru December 15, deadline with an initial review by a city and Facade Improvement Program Committee on the 20th of December. A public meeting at the Historic Preservation Commission will take place on January 10th, 2018. Council review of the historic preservation commission award recommendations will occur on the 23rd of January. Notification of awards will be on the 24th and the project completion deadline July 31st, 2018

McDonald noted there were a few things new with the grant packet this year. She said they established a scoring Matrix allowing up to a hundred points for each Grant proposal. McDonald says she anticipates this will allow the Program Committee to review the proposals, and have a clear idea of what the strengths are with each proposal. Perhaps also where they could have been improved, she added.

On question about the program application availability, Alderman at Large Andrew Chesney asked if there was a particular reason for the narrow time frame.

“9 days to get a quote through, the packet, get it to you, that just seems awfully quick”, he said.

McDonald said that the committee had been working on revising the program this year. She said it actually should have been done much sooner, and is hoping to work within the time frame allotted.

“As it stands now we’re going to be backing up into the next year’s Facade Improvement Program, so that would that was some of the idea behind it.”

Lowell Crow, Freeport’s City Manager said he wants to make sure that all the businesses downtown know about this and said, if they need to make adjustments they will. He said Brian Borger, Director of the Small Business Collaborative already had numerous businesses inquiring about getting into the program.

Crow also said that different from years past, the building seeking a Facade grant needs to be owned. “We’re not letting, in the past they allowed people who were leasing the building to do this, and uh, so it needs to be owned by the person who’s doing the facade program.”

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