CRA concentrates on facade improvements

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By Pat Hibbs

Williston's CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency) is encouraging downtown businesses to spruce up with the help of facade improvement grants, which will total $10,000 for this year alone.

The thrust of the effort is to restore the historic feel of downtown Williston by returning core buildings to their original appearance.

Grants are available up to $5,000 for a single facade. Grants for lesser amounts may be awarded. The building owner or business proprietor must match the grant money dollar for dollar, and the grant may not exceed 50 percent of the cost of the improvements. (If the building is owned by someone other than the business proprietor, the owner must assent to the application.)

The grants are available for improved signage; replacing or installing awnings and canopies; walls, fencing and landscaping; and work on the exterior of the building, including cleaning masonry, painting, repointing, woodwork, window and door replacement and other repairs necessary to rebuild historic storefronts. Restoring the second story of a building to a useful purpose may also be eligible.

Application forms, which are available at city hall, must be accompanied by photographs of the existing conditions, sketches or elevations of the proposed changes, a description of the materials to be used and two cost estimates for the work. The work must be completed within six months of project approval.

Grant applications, which must be submitted on or before March 31, will be reviewed on a point system basis. Points are awarded for transforming a building from worst case to best case, advancing an appropriate style for the building, correction of code deficiencies, removal of non-original masonry or wood cladding and other specific tasks.

One facade improvement was completed successfully last year - the upgrading of the original McMillen Surveying building on South Main Street. The CRA hopes that other business owners in the downtown area will take advantage of this generous program.

Call Terry Summers at City Hall (528-3060) for further information and an application form.