Factoring for façades: City looks to rework façade grant program

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The city’s economic development department is looking to include more business owners in a popular program that aims to help drive economic growth and help business owners to spruce up their downtown storefronts.

Before-Owners of buildings at 813 and 817 Conner St. received a façade grant in 2018. (Submitted photos)

At it’s March 26 meeting, the Noblesville Common Council discussed ordinances that could expand the reach and grow the city’s façade improvement grant program. Councilors first approved an ordinance changing the fund from which façade improvement grant monies are funneled.

“In essence, what this ordinance is doing is changing the funding source for that program from what was previously being funded from the downtown (tax increment financing district) to being funded with general fund monies because the TIF monies are more tightly restricted with regard to how they can be used geographically, and the (general fund) funds aren’t, and that aligns with some of the new ideas for the façade program,” said Jeff Spalding, financial controller for the City of Noblesville.

Aaron Head, economic development specialist with the City of Noblesville, presented the next ordinance, which, if approved, will change the program’s boundaries and set an application deadline for 2019 and all future years.

After- Owners of buildings at 813 and 817 Conner St. received a façade grant in 2018. (Submitted photos)

“What we’re looking at right now is to see how we can expand the boundaries of the program to include historic properties that aren’t in what we call the central business district,” Head said.

The change would mean the program’s boundaries would be consistent with the incorporated city limits of Noblesville.

“Examples of properties would be the old Federal Hill school building, the old Boys & Girls Club building, The Craig House, Adriene’s Flowers, those types of properties that are historic and commercial but just outside of the current boundaries,” Head said. “One of the key points of expanding those boundaries is that a lot of these properties are in some of the (city’s) gateway areas, and it really make sense to try to include some of those historic properties in the program now to allow them to have the same advantage of updating their façades when they see fit.”

Before- The building at 818 Logan St., now the home of Texy Mexy restaurant, benefitted from the façade improvement grant program in 2018. (Submitted photos)

Since the façade improvement grant program’s inception in 2008, the city has granted $856,000 to building and business owners downtown, Head said, with the goal of promoting future investment and architectural appreciation while maintaining historic buildings . Overall, because it works as a matching grant, the program has resulted in approximately $1.9 million in investment to improve facades.

The city offers three types of grants through the program: a small projects grant, which gives a 50 percent reimbursement toward a $5,000 total project cost; a substantial façade improvement grant, which gives a 50 percent reimbursement toward a $50,000 total project cost; and an architectural design assistance grant, which gives a 50 percent reimbursement for projects up to $500 and helps pay for the cost of professional design services for improving a building’s exterior.

Head said business and building owners apply whenever they want to, but the new ordinance could change application guidelines.

After- The building at 818 Logan St., now the home of Texy Mexy restaurant, benefitted from the façade improvement grant program in 2018. (Submitted photos)

“Besides the boundary change, we’re also looking for a mechanism of how to apply for the grant,” Head said. “Currently, (applications) just come in when they come in, and we can approve and deny throughout the entire year. So, with the new (proposed) program, we’re aligning it with some of the other programs that we see, and that has one cut-off date each year.”

Head said for 2019, the application deadline would be May 15. In future years, it would be March 31.

“One thing we want to make clear is that the downtown is still the priority for this program,” Head said. “When we have these specific dates in mind, people that are applying for these grants and are downtown business owners, in what is referred to as the central business district, would be reviewed first, and after that, other properties that are historic in nature that are outside that district would then be reviewed for funding.”

The ordinance changing the boundaries and application guidelines of the program will be presented again, along with a public hearing, at the next council meeting, which is set for 7 p.m. April 9 in the Noblesville City Hall council chambers (second floor), 16 S. 10th St.

Properties to receive a façade grant

2008

  • 871 Conner St.
  • 20 N. Ninth St.
  • 859 Conner St.
  • 610 Hannibal St.
  • 955 Logan St.
  • 884 Logan St.
  • 273 Eighth St.
  • 917 Conner St.
  • 10 S. Ninth St.
  • 925, 933 and 939 Conner St.
  • 954 Conner St.
  • 917 Conner St.
  • 10 S. Ninth St.
  • 694 Logan St.
  • 894 Logan St.

2009

  • 60 N. Ninth St.
  • 293 Eighth St.
  • 60 N. Ninth
  • 808 Logan St.
  • 948 Conner St.
  • 30-40 S. Ninth St.

2010

  • 917 Conner St.
  • 10 S. Ninth St
  • 164 N. 10th St.
  • 830 and 840 Logan St.
  • 347 S. Eighth St.
  • 809 Conner St.

2011

  • 12 N. Ninth St.
  • 996 Conner St.
  • 26 and 32 S. Eighth St.
  • 123 S. Eighth St.
  • 30-40 S. Ninth St.

2012

  • 895 Conner St.
  • 293 S. Eighth St.
  • 45 N. 10th St.
  • 835 Conner St.

2013

  • 107 S. Ninth St.
  • 639 Conner St.
  • 40 N. Ninth St.
  • 954 Conner St.

2014

  • 60 N. Ninth St.
  • 970 and 984 Logan St.
  • 44 S. Eighth St.
  • 68 N. Ninth St.
  • 54 S. Ninth St.

2015

  • 388 S. Eighth St.
  • 56 s. Ninth St.
  • 199 N. Ninth St.

2017

  • 863 Conner St.
  • 960 Logan St.
  • 950 Logan St.
  • 920 Logan St.

2018

  • 818 Logan St.
  • 813 Conner St.
  • 817 Conner St.
  • 50 and 54 N. Ninth St.
  • 98 N. Ninth St.

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