City facade grant program looking for takers

Aug. 12, 2013 @ 03:00 PM

Overseers of a city-funded grant initiative for small business rehabilitation projects say interest from potential recipients is high, but most applicants haven’t yet met the criteria to be able to tap into the pool of funds.
The City Project is taking applications from owners of properties that are used for retail purposes in High Point’s 11-square-mile core city area. Applicants can seek grants of up to $5,000 for improvements such as removing aluminum or false facades, repairing or replacing windows, painting, signage or brick masonry work.
The total amount of grant money available is $29,000.
“I’ve had several inquiries — maybe 10. As far as in-my-hand proposals, I have two,” said Wendy Fuscoe, executive director of The City Project, the public-private partnership that guides the redevelopment of the core city.
Proposals are due Aug. 15. Applicants have to meet not only city guidelines for development, but they must also comply with North Carolina Secretary of the Interior architectural standards.
These have to do with preserving the historic character of a property. Fuscoe said the requirements don’t impose significant burdens for most types of projects that could receive facade grants.
Last year, one historical condominium property that applied for a facade grant sought to install a type of awning that did not meet the standards. It therefore did not receive a grant, but the owner funded the project on their own, Fuscoe said.
The City Project awarded eight grants last year totalling $22,700.
The recipients invested a total of $362,742 of their own funds to match the grant money, which was used primarily for painting, awnings, windows and signage.
For the fiscal year that began July 1, the city allocated $25,000 for the grants and ElectriCities, the public power cooperative of which High Point is a member, contributed $4,000.
Recipients must match their grant award with an equal amount of their own investment. The grants are paid on a reimbursement basis after the work is finished on a project. Applicants must get approval from the committee that awards the grants for their plans before they start construction, Fuscoe said.
The issue has come up lately with some who have expressed interest in applying for reimbursement for work that has already been done, she said. Another sticking point with some potential applicants: cost estimates for a project need to come from a vendor, she said.
Applications can be downloaded from The City Project’s website, www.high-point.net/CityProject/investing_here.html. They also can be obtained by contacting Fuscoe at wendy.fuscoe@highpointnc.gov or at 883-8547.