The Mount Airy Downtown Inc. recently made some changes to its facade grant program, and while that means a little less money available to business owners, local officials still believe the program has major benefits for downtown.
The program offered a 50-percent matching grant, with a cap of $3,000, to downtown property owners restoring or renovating business facades. In an effort to stretch the organization’s dollars, officials have changed that to a one-third match, with a $2,000 cap.
Small business owners in the district can apply for the grant program and receive design assistance and grant money to improve their businesses, improvements that many may not have been able to afford to make without this program, according to MAD officials.
The program, even at the reduced funding level, is aimed at enhancing the attractiveness of the downtown business district to tourists and local shoppers.
“The facade grant program gives property owners the opportunity to give their building the love it needs to preserve its charm,” said Lizzie Morrison, Main Street coordinator. “Once one building improves, it tends to have a catalyst effect on surrounding buildings. I’m so excited to see our downtown become even more beautiful with new awnings, paint jobs, windows, and historic restoration improvements,” she said.
“The Mount Airy Downtown Inc Facade Grants are one of the many reasons why we are thrilled to be part of the North Carolina Main Street Program,”said Jessica Johnson, marketing director/general manager for Mount Airy Visitors Center. “We have already seen the direct impact downtown, and the visual appearance of of Main Street is much improved,” she said.
“The board felt that this is still a significant incentive to encourage historic restoration,” Morrison said “In addition to those changes, we are now offering a Historic Marker Program,” she said.
Many of the buildings in the Downtown district are listed on the National Register of Historic Places through certification programs managed by the Department of the Interior and the NC State Historic Preservation Office.
The MAD program offers an historic marker, or plaque program, to identify those buildings to pedestrians. Part of this program provides a potential $50 reimbursement grant to help meet the cost of purchase.
MAD will provide assistance with editing an appropriate message for a permanent plaque, including information taken from the original nomination document.
The plaque size is between 6” x 10” and 9” X 12” and can accommodate a message of between 126 and 144 characters. Costs range from $200 to $250. More expensive options are available, but MAD’s reimbursement process is limited to the $50 dollar amount listed above.
If a longer citation is appropriate MAD will work with the property owner to find alternate sizes, text length, or vendors.
To apply for the Historic Marker program, please send a brief letter to the Coordinator at MAD, Lizzie Morrison, to initiate the process.
Reach Eva Queen at (336) 415-4739 or [email protected]