Rejuvenating our downtown

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City Council approved six Financial Incentive Grant applications at Monday’s meeting that will help move forward positive changes in the downtown area.

The funding is made available through the City’s Community Improvement Plan approved by Council in May 2017. The plan allow for five classes of building improvement grants for smaller businesses and commercial buildings, and tax rebates for major new development in the downtown area.

The classes are as follows:

Tax Increment Equivalent Grant – financial incentive program that provides the opportunity to redevelop buildings or lands)

Façade Improvement Grant – incentivizes property and business owners to address external design projects, which are often not prioritized

Building Activation Grant for Vacant Spaces – provides developers and property owners with financial support to convert and/or rehabilitate vacant commercial properties into viable commercial uses

Upper Floor Residential Conversion Grant – assists property owners with the cost of improvements related to the conversion of vacant, upper-floor commercial space to residential dwelling units

Patio Conversion Grant – encourages businesses to capitalize on underutilized privately owned space by establishing permanent patio infrastructure

As the staff report to Council explains (pages 71-77), grant programs are a proven tool in attracting private sector investment into the downtown area and the applications approved by Council represent $500,000 in new investment.

The City is committed to rejuvenating our downtown area, and the results of this commitment are starting to become easier to see for the community at large; from the new patios constructed at several businesses this past summer to beautification efforts featuring new sidewalks, landscaping and street furniture. These type of quality of life investments from the City play a part in ensuring our youth, young professionals and tradespeople see a life for themselves here.

Building off of this and with the support of the Downtown Association, a cluster of fresh and exciting businesses has brought new dining and shopping options to satisfy a variety of different tastes, and from our Community Tree Lighting Ceremony, to Moonlight Magic and the summer/fall Downtown Street Parties, there is plenty of activity in the downtown area year-round.