Façade Grant Program extended

Published 5:52 pm Tuesday, March 21, 2023

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AHOSKIE – The Ahoskie Town Council is trying its best to give money away.

Since last year, the town has awarded in excess of $70,000 through its Façade Grant Program, which helps Main Street business owners spruce up their storefronts as well as making roof repairs.

The response, to date, has been slow. In an effort to attract more applications, town council members made those who owned commercial property one block off Main Street eligible to apply.

At last week’s meeting, council members approved Façade Grant Program funding to the business owners at the following addresses:

507 East Main Street ($8,000)

131 East Main Street ($3,250)

309 West Main Street ($4,350)

224 West Main Street ($1,271.80)

116 East Main Street ($8,000)

110 North Mitchell Street ($6,500)

The maximum grant is $8,000. That level of funding is available when the property owner matches the grant dollar-for-dollar. For projects under $8,000 in total cost, the town will match one-half of that amount.

Eligible properties are required to be on Main Street and one block off Main Street in either direction.

All of the work is required to be completed by May 31.

Councilman David Hunt noted that even with this latest round of funding approvals, money remains ($50,628.20) in the Façade Grant Program.

“I hate to give the money back to the state,” Hunt stressed. “I would recommend opening this up for two more weeks to receive additional applications for this funding. With the money we have left we can do at least 10 projects at $5,000 each.”

Hunt added that those wishing to apply at this late stage of the project should be allowed the opportunity to request funding for roof repairs, as long as that work is completed on or before May 31.

“As long as we are in the letter of the law, I don’t see why we can’t open this up for two more weeks,” noted Councilman Charles Freeman.

Hunt made the motion to extend the Façade Grant Program for two more weeks with a $5,000 maximum grant and to allow roof repair as an allowable expense.

Councilman Roy Sharpe offered a second and the motion passed without objection.

The application deadline is Tuesday, March 28.

Additionally, council members at last week’s meeting approved a revised Building Reuse Grant in the amount of $6,246.42 for Leroy Douglas in his effort to renovate a 3,000 square foot building he owns at 208 West Main Street for use as a restaurant. It is the same location as the former Uptown Café. That revised amount takes into account viable expenses that qualify for the grant that were not submitted in his original request.

That brings the total amount to $18,446.42 awarded by the town to Douglas for this project. He was originally awarded $12,200 at the council’s December 2022 meeting.

The town’s maximum grant for this particular fund is $25,000. It is a “dollar-for-dollar” matching grant, meaning whatever the amount awarded by the town, the grantee must invest that same amount or more.

At the January meeting of the council, Douglas said he plans to invest over $100,000 in the renovation.

There is a job commitment portion of the grant, one that requires the business, once it opens, to have at least two full-time employees for a minimum of six consecutive months.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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