For the second consecutive year, the City of Athens is pleased to offer the Downtown Façade Improvement Program to qualifying downtown property owners. In Fiscal Year 2017, the Athens City Council approved the creation of the Downtown Façade Improvement Program. This new and exciting program is designed to help improve aesthetic qualities and preserve historic structures in the Athens downtown area.
“The first year of the program was a huge success,” said Community Services Coordinator Adrianna Hinds. “The City received over 10 applications for requests for improvements ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 and, after administrative review, was able to fund 6 of them.” She added, “we look forward to another successful year in 2018 and encourage downtown property owners to take advantage of this funding opportunity.”
The program is grant-based and available to property owners who own buildings located in the Downtown Façade Improvement Program Downtown Area, which includes the nine blocks of downtown, Athens Alley and a few other areas adjacent to the square.
The program provides 80:20 grants (80% contributed by the City of Athens, 20% by the property owner) with a grant maximum of $12,500 per façade and $25,000 per project. Funding for the program is made available exclusively from the City’s Hotel Occupancy Taxes. After the success of the first year, City Council approved a $10,000 increase in funds for the second year of the program. For the Fiscal Year 2018 Downtown Façade Improvement Program, $60,000 is allocated for qualifying applications. The Downtown Façade Improvement Program includes reimbursement for expenses associated with “reconstruction, rehabilitation and preservation of the façade, façade cleaning, professional and consultant fees, tuck pointing, painting, renovation or replacement of exterior lighting, and awnings or other similar improvements.” Grant calculation will be made based upon a building’s specifications (e.g., one-story or two-story) and the amount of linear feet per façade.
“The goal of this program is to not only continue the development of our wonderful downtown as a tourist destination but to also encourage reinvestment in the downtown area, spurring business growth,” said Assistant City Manager Nasi Kombos. “A downtown that’s vibrant and architecturally pleasing will attract new visitors and business alike. The 2017 Downtown Façade Improvement Program is forecasted to result in leveraging over $70,000 in public and private investment. We look forward to having even more success this year.”
In order to provide more information regarding the Downtown Facade Improvement Program and assist downtown property owners with improvement opportunities for their downtown properties, the City will host an afternoon of free one-on-one consultations with an architect who specializes in historic preservation on Thursday, Jan. 18. This will also be an opportunity to discuss the program with City of Athens staff and to ask any questions that applicants may have. Applicants free to extend an invitation to any other persons as you feel necessary (i.e., your contractor, mason, etc.). Light refreshments will be provided.
If you are interested in receiving a free consultation for your property on Jan. 18, please contact Adrianna Hinds at email@example.com to schedule your consultation. Appointments must be scheduled by Friday, Jan. 12.
Applications and information packets regarding the program are available online at www.athenstx.gov or can be picked up at City Hall, located at 508 East Tyler St. The application submission deadline is March 1st.
For questions regarding the Downtown Façade Improvement Program, please contact City Hall at 903.675.5131 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.