Facade program popular

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 15, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Next year, Suffolk officials may want to increase funding for the Industrial Development Authority’s facade improvement program.

For the past two years, the city has invested $50,000 annually to the program, which gives eligible businesses matching grants up to $10,000 to pay for exterior improvements. On a first-come, first-serve basis, the money can be used to pay for new awnings, signs, fences or window replacements.

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But despite being just days into the new fiscal year, this year’s facade improvement allocation has already been earmarked for eligible businesses, said Downtown Development Coordinator Elizabeth McCoury, who oversees the program.

Any business in an area with a village or neighborhood plan is eligible for funds. So far, because of the order in which applications were filed, all of the money has stayed in the greater downtown area, she said.

The program didn’t receive many applicants when it debuted last year, McCoury said.

Since then, however, McCoury has put the city’s seal of approval on 20 project applications.

&uot;I think the floodgates opened for applications because of the increased activity in the downtown area,&uot; she said. &uot;A lot of folks (with downtown businesses) had their projects on hold until things began to happen.&uot;

The most recent business to be compensated for its facade work was Suffolk Iron Works, owned by IDA Chairman John Harrell.

Harrell recently received $2,897.50, which covers 50 percent of the $5,795 receipts submitted in April. He had the Liberty Street exterior of the building painted and replaced two windows.