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home : business : business May 26, 2016

7/23/2013 11:59:00 AM
Grants available to help Sisters businesses
By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

Property owners can get matching grant funds and design assistance to help improve the appearance of downtown Sisters businesses through the Downtown Sisters Urban Renewal Agency Small Projects Improvement Grant Program.

Applications are now available through city hall for the grant program, which will provide either $10,000 in matching funds or 50 percent of project cost, whichever is the lesser figure.

Community Development Director Pauline Hardie and City Manager Andrew Gorayeb noted that the program will be of particular assistance as regards six downtown properties that will be significantly affected by the alteration of the streetscape in the upcoming Cascade Avenue rehabilitation project. Several downtown Sisters businesses will have to alter their facades to accommodate changes in the sidewalks.

"We've met with every property owner and talked to them about what they wanted," Gorayeb said.

Funds are available for any commercial building where projects "achieve visible results that enhance Sisters' downtown image, marketability, and economic vitality," according to application criteria. Funds "shall be allocated ... (based on) visual prominence of the building and its location, aesthetic quality (of) design proposal, historical and architectural significance of the building, potential impact on the attractiveness of the city streetscape, the particular building, and the economic development of the downtown area, and readiness to proceed."

The funds will be available through the city's Urban Renewal District. An Urban Renewal District allows a municipality to borrow to fund enhancement and rehabilitation projects. Debt is serviced through a tax upon properties within the district.

Funds are limited.

"We don't have a bottomless pool of money," Gorayeb cautioned.

He said that staff is recommending an allocation of $100,000 for qualifying projects, but the city council has not yet approved a figure.

Signage improvement is eligible for a matching grant up to $1,000; design assistance is eligible up to $500.

Eligible work includes:

• Replacement, repair or alteration of building exteriors (facades) or elements such as doors, windows, porches, balconies, etc.

• Repair or replacement of awnings.

• Exterior painting.

• Sign repair, replacement, installation or removal.

• Site improvements, such as landscaping, etc.

No interior work is eligible, nor are projects that would be considered general maintenance.

Property owners must submit an application and appropriate plans to the city, which must be approved by the city council acting as the city's Urban Renewal Agency. Hardie says that the process will be quick.

"As soon as we get it (a complete application) we'll get it on the next meeting," she said.

For more information, contact Hardie or Gorayeb at city hall, 541-549-6022.

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