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Local News

Downtown Plano businesses can seek facade improvement grants

If you’re a building or business owner in downtown Plano, you may be eligible for a 50 percent grant for making improvements to the front of your building or business.

Plano City Council members at last week’s meeting approved a resolution allowing property owners to receive grants to improve the appearance and use of business facades to maintain a viable real estate tax and sales base and improve employment opportunities.

The resolution introduced by Mayor Bob Hausler says the city wants to support the development of businesses within the city’s downtown and the Route 34 corridor business district. Hausler said the goal is to create a more inviting character for the businesses of downtown Plano.

According to the resolution, the city will provide a 50 percent matching grant to business and building owners who make eligible improvements to the facades of their buildings. The grant is applicable for up to a maximum amount of $2,500. Eligible improvements include exterior doors, window and window frames, shutters and awnings, exterior lighting, brick cleaning and tuck pointing, and exterior painting.

Also eligible are improvements to stairs, porches, railings, streetscape elements and hardscape, wall facade repairs and treatments, original architectural feature repairs or replacements, signage repairs or replacements, roofs visible from the street, and improvements that comply with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

Hausler said the program will not provide funds for working capital, debt refinancing, equipment or inventory acquisition, application fees, permit fees, legal fees, plumbing and HVAC repairs or improvements, parking lot resurfacing or interior remodeling.

If a grant application is approved, the work must be completed within 180 days of approval. Matching funds will be given to the applicant once the improvements have been completed and approved by the city’s building department, Hausler said.

Applicants who are unsure about the appropriate style of improvements needed can apply for a Design Assistance Grant, to hire a licensed architect for the building redesign. The city will pay a dollar-for-dollar match of the design fees up to $500 or 20 percent of the total improvement grant applied for.

According to the application, every project will be evaluated for the value of its aesthetic improvement to the business and surrounding commercial area, the extent or scope of work proposed and its potential economic impact on the business community.

Applications will be reviewed on the basis of improvement in overall appearance, impact on the block or adjacent businesses, the amount of construction to be conducted, and the potential economic impact on the business occupied or leased. Applications also will be reviewed on the ways it will contribute to the economic vitality of the downtown business district, and how the use is compatible with or how it complements the mix of existing downtown businesses.

If the amount of funding is not sufficient to pay for the work, the applicant may reapply for a grant in the next cycle when funds are available, Hausler said.

Grant applications and requirements can be obtained at the Plano City Hall, 1 E. Main St., Plano, or at cityofplanoil.com.

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