Mayor Tom Henry on Tuesday announced the release of more funds for commercial property owners while showcasing a project completed with the first round of grant money.
"Since before I was elected, I’ve had a commitment to ‘strengthening the heart’ of our community," said Mayor Tom Henry. "I remember the days when many of our commercial corridors were thriving areas of business and activity. I want the City to do what it can to help the business owners who’ve invested in these areas achieve that level of success once again. We don’t always have a lot of control over decisions made by large employers about locating or expanding in our community, but these small business owners have made a commitment and an investment and we can leverage some opportunities to help them grow."
The commercial façade grant program makes funds available to offset the costs of facades, signage, lighting, awnings, parking improvements, decorative fencing and other enhancements owners want to make to their property. The City has designated $200,000 for this round of the grant program. The grant is usually leveraged in a dollar-to-dollar ratio, so each dollar of public funding is met with a minimum of $1 of private investment. One business owner on Wells Street used the grant to create a visual focal point on his property.
"Our matching grant money provided by this program allowed us to invest $40,000 in the building and add a 75 foot by 20 foot mural based on Fort Wayne history, nostalgia and memories," said Sam Hyde, owner of Hyde Brothers Booksellers. "We hope this will become a cultural addition to the historically significant Wells Street corridor."
In the first round of funding earlier this year, the matching amount of the grant was expected to be about $20,000. The program was so successful that the original $200,000 set aside to fund it was doubled to $400,000 at Mayor Henry’s request. Twenty-six projects representing about $1.5 million in investment resulted. Projects had to be located in City Council-designated economic development target areas (EDTAs), several of which exist throughout the community.
An EDTA area map is available at the city’s website.
The average matching amount of the grant is again expected to be about $20,000, but larger projects may qualify for more assistance, the Mayor said. Administered through the Redevelopment Department, the grant applications will be available Nov. 13 to Dec. 18 both in the City-County Building and online. Property and business owners who meet the criteria will be able to apply for funds that will likely help them with spring construction projects.
"Here along the Wells Street Corridor, we have an ideal location where the business community, the neighborhood and the City have all worked in concert to identify the vision and priorities for the area." said Mayor Henry. "The shared energy and commitment is making a difference in the vitality of one of Fort Wayne’s first commercial corridors to ensure its future has a chance to be as vibrant as its past."
Applications will be available from the Redevelopment office and online in the next few weeks. Businesses with questions or wanting more information may call Julie Sanchez at 427-2147.