Building owners eligible for up to $2,000 from city
By Bert Lehman
Downtown businesses and property owners along Main Street are now eligible for up to $2,000 in matching grant funds for making exterior facade improvements to their building.
The Clintonville Redevelopment Authority approved the Building Improvement Grant Program on May 20.
City documents state the program’s purpose is to “improve the business climate in downtown Clintonville, improve the front and rear facades and building conditions of existing businesses along North Main Street and South Main Street, enhance the quality of life in the Clintonville area, and encourage the development and maintenance of the buildings on North Main Street and South Main Street.”
According to the specifications of the program, “property owners and businesses along North and South Main Street in downtown Clintonville are eligible for up to $2,000 in matching grant funds for exterior facade improvements made to their buildings. As a matching grant program, the city will reimburse the property owner for up to 50 percent of the expense, up to a maximum of $2,000 ($2,000 grant funds matched by $2,000 private funds).”
“This is actually something that I have wanted to implement pretty much since I came on board,” Clintonville City Administrator Sharon Eveland told the redevelopment authority.
Eveland said she used the language for the city of New London’s downtown building grant program and made a few changes. New London’s program is “first come, first serve.”
“Due to our very limited funds available for this program I felt that it needed to be competitive,” Eveland said. “And I wanted to make sure that we were making the best use of the money, not just whoever happens to put in an application first. Other than that, the program is almost identical to the New London program. I figured it was better to not reinvent the wheel.”
Eveland said the program deals with more than just the buildings’ facades.
“It’s really about improving our businesses,” Eveland said. “I think … the downtown of any, especially small municipalities, really is the heart of the community. And if your heart is not functioning well, if your heart is not in good shape, then that’s going to affect the rest of the body. I really feel if we want to get people to the downtown, we need to get property owners in the downtown to start making improvements.”
Understanding it can be costly for property owners to make these improvements, Eveland wants the city to be able to help cover some of those costs.
“While the city doesn’t have a lot of money, the intent is to try remediate some of those costs,” Eveland said.
Funds for the program will come from the remaining loan receivables from the now-closed revolving loan fund program that the city had through the state of Wisconsin, Eveland said.
“When the state closed that (program), we were able to defederalize the receivables and basically do whatever we wanted to do with that money,” Eveland said. “I felt this would be the perfect time to funnel some of that money into this program so it wasn’t additional money or tax money the city had to come up with.”
There will be a defined application period for the program with deadlines for applicants. Deadlines will be determined.
The program calls for the Clintonville city administrator to make all decisions about awarding grants. This information will then be reported to the Clintonville Redevelopment Authority.