Revitalizing downtown Waupaca
City seeks grant applications
By Angie Landsverk
The city of Waupaca is ready to accept applications for its new Downtown Business Incentive Program.
The application material became available on the city’s website in mid-December, said City Administrator Aaron Jenson.
He told the Waupaca County Post the city has “received interest and questions from seven to eight building owners in the downtown district.”
The common council approved the new program in November.
It includes two grants – the Facade Enhancement Grant and the Building Repair Grant.
Purpose of grants
• Provide incentives to maintain and upgrade downtown historic buildings.
• Incentivize new downtown development.
• Encourage new housing development and investment.
• Upgrade existing downtown housing.
Both are 50% matching grants, with up to $15,000 available for facade improvements and up to $25,000 for building repairs.
Property owners in the downtown district are eligible for the grants.
Funding of $500,000 is proposed for the first year of the program, which is 2021.
The funding is generated by the city’s Tax Incremental District (TID) No. 4 (Western Avenue).
Those funds are being transferred from TID 4 to TID 10 (Badger Street) for the Downtown Business Incentive Program.
Prior to the common council approving the new program, it first voted to amend the boundary of TID 10 by a half-mile radius to include the downtown area.
The city’s Plan Commission, as well as the Joint Review Board, also approved the amendment.
City officials brought the proposal forward as a way to help downtown business owners affected this year by the COVID-19 pandemic and then in 2021 by the reconstruction of Main Street.
Main Street is being reconstructed from Badger to Granite streets.
The boundary of TID 4 was also amended by a half-mile radius to include the former Shopko and Kmart properties.
Applications for projects in the Downtown Business Incentive Program will be reviewed and evaluated by the Community Development Authority (CDA).
Earlier this month, the common council approved appointing Mayor Brian Smith, Gene LeSage, Shellady Udoni Horn, Pam Gusmer, Denise Ross, Tracy Behrendt and Ald. Paul Mayou to the CDA.
“We’re looking to use the CDA to help administer the downtown revitalization program,” Jenson told the council that evening.
He explained why new members were needed on the CDA.
“When we went back and looked at state statutes, there were some people on it who didn’t meet those statutes,” Jenson said. “This was an opportunity to get it right.”
He believes the last time the city’s CDA may have met was in 2013.
Jenson said the people now appointed to the CDA “are excited to be part of it.”
Downtown property owners may visit www.cityofwaupaca.org/development/downtown-incentive-program for details about the city’s new program.
Eligible facade improvements include signage, windows, doors, exterior walls, chimneys, masonry repair and other architectural elements.
Applicants may receive up to one grant per funding year.
Grants are awarded following the completion of projects.
The city and CDA may approve grants for more than $15,000 for larger projects “demonstrating a significant positive impact on the downtown,” according to the program guidelines.
That is also the case for the Building Repair Grant.
Eligible building repairs include design and construction costs directly related to interior and exterior alterations.
Examples are roofs, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, insulation, structural and ADA related improvements.
Grants are again awarded after projects are completed, with applicants able to receive up to one grant per funding year.