Downtown board approves first facade grant

Program offers $50,000 in start-up year to fund improvements

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK, News-Telegram Managing Editor

Oct. 23, 2008 - A building owned by Echo Publishing Company has become the first property approved for a city-funded facade improvement grant.

The property, technically located on Connally Street but facing Davis Street, was approved for the $4,000 grant by the Downtown Revitalization Board.

The facade grant program was institued as part of the efforts to improve the appearance of the downtown area and attract more business to the center of the city.

The Downtown Revitalization Board, formed about four years ago to create a plan for improvements in the central business district, has the final say in approving or rejecting facade grant applications. The decision does not require approval from the City Council.

A second request for a facade grant, applied for by owner Jeff Redding for property at 104 Mulberry Street, was turned down, but City Manager Marc Maxwell encouraged Redding to apply again in the future.

Maxwell said the focus of the grant program in at least its first year will be on properties located on Main Street, which was recently reopened after major improvements were completed, and other areas closer to the square.

The city manager said that the program has only about $50,000 to hand out this year to the most qualified properties, and the intent is to get the most "bang for the buck."

Maxwell suggested Redding apply for another grant at the end of the summer in 2009 after the first round of applicants in more desirable areas have had an opportunity to seek funding.

The board also held brief informal discussions about proposed rules for a farmers market. Maxwell has proposed using a parking lot on the south side of Main Street as a multi-use facility that can house a market for local produce yet be easily converted to host other events.

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