February 28, 2013 — The Exterior Enhancement Grant provides financial assistance up to $25,000 to property/business owners seeking to renovate or restore building facades and adjacent streetscapes in downtown South Bend.

The purpose of this dollar for dollar matching grant is to provide assistance in funding well-designed building façade and streetscape improvements that respect the building’s history, original design integrity, and adjacent structures and that make a noticeable visual enhancement in the downtown area. It is the intention of this grant to make enhancements that will last for decades and be enjoyed for generations to come. Tamara Nicholl-Smith, director of downtown business recruitment states, “Building owners will come to use with a passion for downtown and a love for their building and we are fortunate to be able to offer this grant to assist businesses in making downtown a more enjoyable, visually pleasant destination to visit”. Since 2002 downtown businesses have received over $1.2 million to assist in over $2.5 million worth of enhancements.

A significant and impactful project was the transformation of a former gas station into what is now the sleek Hair Crafters Salon. As a business on the fringe of DTSB, the building serves as a gateway into downtown so this was a key enhancement in the process of transforming downtown into an aesthetically pleasing place to visit. Hair Crafters used the grant to add a vestibule, get new concrete and landscaping. Jean, Hair Crafter’s salon coordinator states, “People like coming to a place that looks good and the exterior look of a building is the first impression of your business to the public. We felt that it was important to invest in the exterior of our building because it increases customer’s desire to visit and its increases property value. The grant was a great opportunity to help us to do that”. Jean recommends for every business owner to consider making an enhancement to their exterior. Jean adds, “It’s not just about your business but about your neighbors and everyone who visits downtown”.

One major project in recent history was the restoral of the Citizen Bank building in 2012, where they modernized the exterior and added windows to a previously windowless wall. The result is a more visually pleasant exterior, benefiting the public realm. The addition of the windows makes it a more desirable building in which to work, creating increased economic viability.

The grant has recently moved to a competitive process, as competition for funds increases. Full applications are due by the firm deadline of 5:00PM EST on Monday, April 1, 2013. Pre-applications are not required, but are encouraged as it allows applicants to receive feedback they can use to improve their full application. The pre application deadline is 5:00PM EST on Wednesday, March 6, 2013.

Grant guidelines as well as the pre- application and full application forms are available at: http://www.downtownsouthbend.com/facadegrant.ptp. The grant is structured as a rebate program under which grant awardees are reimbursed 50% of total amount spent on the qualifying portion of the project to up to $25,000.


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