Makeover money available for downtown businesses

A sum of $20,000 will be divvied up amongst downtown businesses who apply and meet the criteria for facade improvements

Some businesses in the downtown core are set to be spruced up over the spring and summer.

A grant of $20,000 was applied for and received by the city from Northern Development Initiative Trust’s (NDIT) Business Facade Improvement Program, and businesses will be able to apply for a portion of that money in the coming weeks.

“If a building is in the downtown core within our boundaries, and that runs from City Hall down to the legion and a couple of blocks up from the railway tracks up to Park Ave. for the most part, then they can apply,” explained Terrace Downtown Improvement Area (TDIA) Coordinator Dennis Lissimore.

This program is in line with what TDIA heard from community members in last year’s downtown study, he said.

“One of the comments out of the downtown study was about unsightly buildings,” he said. “This gives us some ability to help some of those people out, get the front of their buildings cleaned up and maybe more consistent with some of the other buildings on the properties.”

A committee made up of three to five community members and headed by a TDIA board member will be struck to decide which applicants should receive money for improvements – NDIT program guidelines specify that the grants are to be doled out in minimum amounts of $1,000 to a maximum of $5,000 and are to be matched by the business. If all goes to plan, the facade improvements should be completed by October.

According to the guidelines, eligible facade improvements include things like exterior lighting, architectural features, siding, facade painting, entrances and doorways, awnings, signage.

Landscaping, paving, fencing, wheelchair ramps, roofs and patios are not eligible.

Lissimore said the TDIA is still working out its own guidelines about what facade improvements it would like to most focus on, but said those should be available next week when the program applications begin to roll out. Murals – either new ones or touching up old ones – are something they are considering, as well.

One issue downtown businesses struggle with when it comes to fixing up their buildings is that some business owners do not own the actual building.

“You have a business that’s in the property that wants to do something but it’s actually the building owner that has to do the work and we have quite a whack of absentee landlords and that’s where the problem arises,” he said. “They’re possibly not interested in spending money on any of their properties. The people leasing the building can do the work, but they have to get the OK from the building owner and then at that point decide how it’s paid for and that sort of thing.”