Durham Seeks Grant Applicants for Signage and Building Improvements
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Durham Seeks Grant Applicants for Signage and Building Improvements


June 13 Deadline to Submit Applications for Grant Opportunities

DURHAM, N.C. – May 16, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — Business owners interested in making signage or building improvements in targeted areas inside the city limits should take note of three grant opportunities now available through the City of Durham.

The City’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) is now accepting applications for targeted areas inside the city limits for Sign and Façade Grants, formerly known as Sign Grants, as well as Building Improvement Grants, and Retail and Professional Services Grant, formerly known as the Merchandise-Based Incentive Grant Program.

Eligible projects for all three grant opportunities should be within the community development area (CDA) outside of the Downtown Development Tier, including targeted corridors; or within targeted areas in the urban growth area (UGA). The targeted corridors inside the CDA are Angier Avenue and Driver Street; West Chapel Hill Street; Mangum Street; Fayetteville Street; East Main Street; and Holloway Street. The targeted areas within the UGA are Wellon’s Village, North Roxboro Road, and Avondale Drive. To assist applicants with identifying whether proposed projects are located within eligible geographic areas, a state-of-the-art mapping application has been developed by the City’s Geographic Information Systems’ Division. The application is available on the City’s website at http://gisweb.durhamnc.gov/durhammaps/oewd/viewer/index.html.

Sign and Façade Grant
The OEWD’s Sign and Façade Grant’s objective is to assist business owners and improve the pedestrian experience in select neighborhoods inside the city limits by enhancing the visibility and appearance of businesses through signage and façade improvements that are physically, historically, and architecturally compatible with relevant design guidelines.

Signage improvements include costs related to the design, fabrication, refurbishment, and installation of signs.  Façade improvements must be made to the exterior of one or more sides of the building and/or property visible from a public street or municipal parking lot. At least 50 percent of façade improvements must be attributed to costs associated within the following categories: 1) restoration, repair, or replacement of windows, doors, exterior walls, chimneys, or other architectural elements; 2) exterior painting; 3) awnings, marquees, and related exterior lighting and electrical fixtures; 4) masonry repair and cleaning; 5) non-flat roof repair for portion noticeable from the public line of site; 6) exterior work necessary for conversion to a retail or entertainment storefront; 7) removal of modern façades, in order to restore back to vintage quality; 8) restoration of vintage elements; and 9) removal of deteriorated building materials, such as plywood or metal.

The maximum incentive per business or address shall not exceed $2,500 for the signage portion of a grant and $5,000 overall. In no case shall the incentive exceed 50 percent of the total project cost. Funds will be provided through reimbursement upon completion of the project and submission of appropriate documentation proving compliance with relevant design guidelines and costs. Sign and Façade Grant applications will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis with funding subject to availability; there is no deadline to apply for this particular grant. A decision as to funding will be made within 15 business days of the City’s OEWD receiving a completed grant application. Information and guidance on signs may be found on the Durham City-County Inspections Department Web page at www.DurhamNC.gov/Departments/Inspections/Signs.cfm.

Building Improvement Grant
The OEWD’s Building Improvement Grant requires that eligible applicants own the building at the time of application and the project must be private property and non-residential. Capital investment improvements must be on an existing building having vacant spaces for the purpose of improving and/or upgrading the interior and exterior in order to make the first floor more rentable or “retail/restaurant-ready.” Grant parameters include the following:
• If the project is within the Community Development Area outside the Downtown Development Tier, the minimum total project capital investment must be at least $187,500.
• If the project is within a Targeted Portion of the Urban Growth Area, the minimum total project capital investment must be at least $300,000.

The deadline to apply for Building Improvement Grants is Monday, June 13, 2011, by noon. Funding requests of $50,000 or greater will be subject to City Council approval. Applicants requesting $50,000 or greater will be notified by Monday, July 18, 2011, as to whether the application will be recommended to City Council for approval.

Retail and Professional Services Grant
In order to be eligible for the OEWD’s Retail and Professional Services Grant, the project property must be a street level, retail business, restaurant or a certain professional or personal services business such as a childcare center or beauty salon.  The applicant must be the owner of the property or have a fully signed lease and a letter of approval from the property owner supporting the proposed improvements. The business must be open at least five days a week, eight hours a day. Organizations that are not eligible to apply are religious organizations; government agencies or offices; businesses or private clubs that exclude minors as patrons; and residential projects.

Retail and Professional Services Grant recipients are eligible to receive up to $15,000 in matching funds from the City for a project that meets eligibility criteria and scores high enough in the competitive evaluation process. Only funds spent on work performed after City approval of the grant are eligible for reimbursement. Eligible expenses include but are not limited to security systems, telephone systems, point of sale equipment, kitchen equipment, millwork, built-in display furnishings and shelving, HVAC, coolers, plumbing, demolition, flooring, grease traps, sprinkler systems, electrical, installation of walls, package and labeling equipment and similar items.

The deadline to apply for a Retail and Professional Services Grant is Monday, June 13, 2011, by noon. All efforts will be made to evaluate and determine funding requests within 45 days of the submission deadline. The City anticipates notifying applicants of their award status by Monday, July 18, 2011.

Projects under all three grants would need to be completed within one-year of City approval. For a complete description of the grant application guidelines, application process, and mapping application visit the City’s website at www.DurhamEconomicDevelopment.org. Interested applicants for proposed projects may also contact Peter Coyle, cultural and business initiatives coordinator with the City’s OEWD, via e-mail at Peter.Coyle (at) DurhamNC (dot) gov or by phone at (919) 560-4965, ext. 15205.

About the Office of Economic and Workforce Development
The City of Durham’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) implements a comprehensive and responsive business development strategy that supports business formation, retention, expansion, relocation, and employment opportunities created by the business development strategy. OEWD also works with community partners to ensure that Durham residents have opportunities to be placed and retained in these employment opportunities. To learn more, visit the City’s website at www.DurhamEconomicDevelopment.org.


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