The Clayton Mart on East Main Street was identified as a "challenge" by a group of volunteers with the Downtown Development Association in the "picture downtown" project.
CLAYTON -- Businesses in downtown Clayton that have been identified as “challenges” will continue to receive extra funding if they seek out grants from the town to improve their exteriors.
The facade grant program, which began in the 2007-2008 fiscal year, has helped improve 17 businesses downtown. The town spent $44,000 on the projects, while business owners invested $288,000.
The reimbursement rate has been 50 percent of a project’s cost up to $5,000, but the town council decided Tuesday night to increase that rate for downtown buildings that were identified as “challenges” in the Downtown Development Association’s Picture Downtown project in June.
For those businesses, facade improvement grants would have an increased reimbursement rate of 75 percent of a project’s cost up to $6,250.
“Several of the owners whose properties have been identified as “challenges” have been in discussion with the (Clayton Downtown Development Association) on ways to improve those buildings so we will see some changes in the near future,” said Bruce Naegelen, Downtown Development Coordinator.
That increased amount was first decided on leading up to the N.C. Main Street conference in January, when town planners from across the state visited Clayton.
Prior to the conference, downtown businesses participating in the grant program received 75 percent of a project’s cost.
In the 2012-2013 budget, the town set aside $20,000 for a facade grant program for the downtown area and considered extending the grants to businesses in the thoroughfare overlay district along U.S. Business 70 and N.C. 42.
While the council decided against spreading the allocated funding to the thoroughfare overlay district this year, they will consider allocating more funding to expand the facade grant program in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
At a prior council meeting, Mayor Jody McLeod voiced his concern that expanding the facade grants into the thoroughfare overlay district might be too blanketed an approach.
“If we’re gonna branch out into the thoroughfare overlay district, I want us to have some thought about what areas we need to be in. I want us to identify areas as a council that we want to see that go toward,” McLeod said.
Planning director David DeYoung suggested doing a “picture Clayton” project that would give folks the opportunity to take photos of challenges throughout Clayton, helping to give the council a better idea of which parts of town could benefit from the facade grant program.
“People could go around and take pictures of things they like and dislike about the whole town,” DeYoung suggested.