The Southtown Corridor Improvement Authority has started its first program this year, the Facade Improvement Program. A vibrant façade improvement program is one of the many tools neighborhoods in Grand Rapids and across the country are using to stimulate and expand the economic vitality of local business districts.
“Placemaking is what we’re doing, crafting places people will feel comfortable to come shop,” says Isaac Norris, of Isaac V. Norris and Associates, P.C. and participant in the program. “I’ve been a resident and my parents have owned property in this area for almost 45 years. To have the opportunity to see property upgraded and stay in the neighborhood and add to the vitality of the neighborhood by upgrading facade helps everyone. It will help sustain the neighborhood and sustain the businesses.”
Southtown businesses like Norris’ are already in the midst of improving their exteriors. This financial assistance program reimburses eligible business owners for those facade or exterior improvements. So far, the Southtown CIA has given out $30,000 from the $100,000 program.
Salam Majeed, another participant who owns Miss Tracy’s Party Store at 1043 Franklin SE is putting in a new LED sign facing Franklin. Majeed heard about the program when he attended a couple of meetings held by the Southtown CIA. “The program helps the business look better. It will look nicer and attract more people,” he says of the new sign and painting he is doing to his building.
The Southtown CIA is implementing this program to further the vision established in the Business Area Specific Plan, making Southtown a destination within Grand Rapids celebrated for its vibrant diversity, culture, history and charm.
Any building located in the Southtown Corridor Improvement Authority (CIA) boundary is eligible for the Southtown CIA Business Façade Improvement Program. Submitted applications will be evaluated to determine their ability to advance the goals of the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and Development Plan, with a specific focus on commercial buildings.
Earl Scott, developer and business owner who owns buildings at 1032 Franklin SE says, “The program is definitely a plus for us. We’re in the community and the building is in need of work. It’s helping us do what we’re hoping to get done.”
His company is using the funds to install new doors, windows and paint on the façade facing Kalamazoo.
The Southtown CIA will fund project elements and enhancements in addition to what is required by the City of Grand Rapids, and which are deemed to be privately owned. Applications will open up again in Spring 2020. The money is given out on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.
Questions on this program can be directed to Danielle Williams, Corridor Manager for the Southtown Corridor Improvement Authority at firstname.lastname@example.org