Business Façade Improvement Program 2019

Business Façade Improvement Program 2019

 
Business Facade Program

Façade programs are popular in part because they provide immediate and substantial impact that is visible to the public. As effective as these programs are, the field is littered with façade programs that are poorly designed and therefore underused. The literature suggests that effective façade improvement programs include some or all of the following characteristics:

RESEARCH SUGGESTS:

  • A formal purpose statement is needed.
  • A well defined target area is required.
  • Be sure you are providing at least a 50 - 75% match - the higher match is necessary in districts where business owners are struggling and may lack the capital necessary to meet their match requirements.
  • Because most public programs are set up as reimbursements - it can sometimes be difficult to get facade money out the door. Property owners simply do not have the capital necessary to front the entire cost of the renovation and then wait to be reimbursed after the fact. In cases like this, patient capital is critical. A bridge loan or revolving loan program can help to address the lack of capital for property owners unable to front renovation costs. Non-profit lenders and community development intermediaries might be good partners in exploring these kinds of loan products.
  • If there are significant reporting requirements that cannot be simplified, the match has to be significant enough to make the application and paperwork worth it. Otherwise, most business owners won‘t want to deal with the hassle. The amount considered significant will differ by community, but the literature suggests anything from $25 – 50k is generally sufficient. And the smaller the individual grant, the easier they should be to use (read: minimal paperwork!)
  • If there are vague or no design guidelines, the program should include pro-bono or low-bono design services. When improvements go unsupervised or lack some sort of quality review, it can be difficult to determine when and where façade improvement dollars were used, rendering the overall impact on the shopping district negligible.
  • If funding is limited, consider micro-loan programs for signage only. For $2,500 - $5,000, you can fund attractive signs that make a significant difference to the overall look and feel of the district.
  •  Project Review Committees are sometimes a blended team made up of local government, an institution such as a college and a non profit community or economic development organization.
  • Eligibility criteria, terms for participation, along with the application and selection process need to be clear.

PORT ALBERNI’S APPROACH:

  • The objective of this program is to make significant improvements to the appearance of our community streetscape, even if it is just one building at a time.
  • The Façade Improvement Area compliments the City of Port Alberni’s Commercial Revitalization Tax Exemption Bylaws areas.
  • A higher financial match will be provided to the businesses within the Façade Improvement Area fronting the main travel corridors of Upper 3rd Ave., Lower Argyle St. and Lower Johnston.
  • Community Futures Alberni Clayoquot has established a Façade Loan Program to support businesses making improvements through the Façade Improvement Program.
  •  We have adopted a very simple process. Many communities in British Columbia have successfully processed applications with comprehensive yet simple procedures. We will not reinvent the process but rather copy a process used elsewhere and further simplify the process where possible.
  • Business facades and design services are provided by an accredited architectural firm.
  • 2019 funding will be utilized to maximize the visual Façade Improvement Program ROI. Applicants looking for support towards relatively small improvements may be considered closer to the end of the term if funding remains.
  • The financial partners in the Façade Improvement Program, will have representatives from the City of Port Alberni along with Community Futures Alberni-Clayoquot as the committee.
  • This is demonstrated through the application which follows.

Purpose

The physical environment in which we live and work has a great effect on us. A community that is more appealing to the eye gives its citizens a greater sense of place and welcomes visitors, and for a city’s commercial areas, one of the strongest determinants of the character and quality is its building frontages.

The City of Port Alberni in partnership with Community Futures Alberni-Clayoquot are pleased to provide this program to give monetary assistance and design services as an incentive to building/business owners, to improve the character and physical appearance of their buildings. The program guidelines are intended to set a quality standard for the types of improvements, and act as a guide for application review by the Project Review Committee (PRC).

Project Review Committee

The PRC consists of 3 to 5 representatives from the City of Port Alberni and Community Futures Alberni-Clayoquot.

The objective of this program is to make significant improvements to the appearance of our streetscapes, even if it is just one building at a time. Should the PRC deem that the proposed project does not have a positive impact on the streetscape the application may be denied.

Program

Each retail and commercial building within the City of Port Alberni is eligible to apply for the one time grant and each project must have a minimum total renovation cost of $5,000 in order to apply.

The Business Façade Improvement Program (BFIP) will provide grant funding and design services to BFIP approved applicants.

Grant Funding will provide 50% reimbursement grant up to a maximum of:

 $5,000 per building / project for single face improvement

 $7,500 per building / project - corner lot, two face improvement

 Additional $1,000 to buildings facing upper 3rd Ave., lower Argyle St. and lower Johnston Rd. (still within 50% maximum)

Approved BFIP businesses are required to complete façade improvement by December 31, 2019.

BFIP Design Services will provide an architect to create a design in consideration of the applicant’s budget. This service is provided at no charge to the applicant and is a requirement of the BFIP.

A BFIP Loan Program with competitive terms will be made available though Community Futures Alberni-Clayoquot for approved proponents requiring a loan to participate. Some conditions may apply.

General Guidelines

The BFIP is primarily focused on the physical appearance of the buildings and their relationship to the street. Facades and storefronts of retail and commercial buildings are to be considered.

As limited funds are available, projects will be considered on anticipated results to the Program and community.

Buildings that have previously received the façade improvement grant shall not be eligible to receive a subsequent BFIP grant. This is a one-time grant only.

 

For full information on the Business Façade Improvement Program click HERE to see the Applicant Information and Application