Downtown rehab grants up for grabs

 

The race is expected to be competitive for  five $20,000 grants to help  local businesses renovate buildings in Salisbury’s Downtown Historic District.

A total of $100,000 is available from the Community Legacy Program of the Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development to make improvements in the city’s sustainable community area. Many business owners will be contenders, predicted Deborah J. Stam, director of community development for the city.

Applications are available now and must be handed in by Sept. 12.

“These projects will have to be projects that qualify, meaning interior or exterior improvements, to an existing business,” Stam explained.

“These are rehabilitation grants, so the business owner can’t buy furniture with the money or do something they could take with them if they ever leave. They have to make improvements to the physical structure itself,” Stam said.

Although $20,000 is not enough money to pay for a major upgrade,  Stam called it “gap funding” meant to improve affordability.

Applications are in the Office of Business and Community Development, Room 104 in the Government Office Building.

To be eligible, a building doesn’t have to be recognized by the state’s Historic Trust, but must be in the confines of the historic district. Applicants will receive a map to be sure buildings they plan to target are in the correct location.

Stam said cities nationwide are making money available for downtown revitalization and that Salisbury’s grant offer fits into its Main Street Master Plan for revitalization.

“This money will certainly help the business owners,” Stam said.

“If a business is just getting started and they need a little extra help before they open the doors, this would help. Or, if a business is open and the building needs some work to the interior or exterior, this will help. It can be beneficial from a lot of different angles,” she said.

Stam called offering the grants, an idea that originated in the mayor’s office “an excellent idea.”

“Anything we can do to help with rehabilitation, to improve downtown, is always a good thing. And, we’re in the process of applying for additional funding,” she said.

The state program isn’t new, but Stam said this is the first time local businesses have been able to apply for grants.

“Certainly a great deal of time, effort and funding are being invested in the revitalization  of downtown and I think everyone involved is very excited about the prospects for the future,” Stam said.

“We have high hopes.”

Contact Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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