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EDA proposes to help tornado-impacted businesses

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article gave an incorrect date for the EDA meeting. It is Wednesday, June 12.

Businesses impacted by the May 11 tornado could potentially apply for a façade improvement grant under a proposal set for discussion at Wednesday’s Economic Development Authority meeting.

The proposal would allow active businesses in good standing with the city and impacted by the tornado to apply for a façade improvement grant to replace or repair its façade, signage or exterior building damage.

Businesses located along sections of East Washington Street and Constance Road that were impacted by the tornado would be eligible for the grant, which would have to be used within 12 months from the receipt of the application. They would be reimbursed up to 50 percent of the total cost of the rehabilitation, up to $5,000.

The proposal would calculate reimbursements on renovation work completed on the exterior façade and the most prominent side of the building adjacent to the right-of-way.

Property owners would need to get two certified estimates for the project and turn it in with the application to reserve the grant money, which will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis up to the amount of money at the EDA’s disposal.

Like other façade improvement grants, the following improvements would be reimbursable: signage, awnings, painting as part of a larger rehabilitation project, window replacement/repair, brick or masonry repair/replacement, fence, siding repair/replacement and door repair/replacement. The proposal for those impacted by the tornado would also allow for roof repairs.

After the project is completed and city staff and the EDA has reviewed it, the business would receive the reimbursement after it submits evidence of the total project costs and the city reviews it.

The business façade improvement grant program was initially established to provide financial aid for commercial property owners in designated areas of the city to fix up their buildings and properties. Those areas include downtown Suffolk — as designated in the Historic Conservation Overlay District — as well as the villages and gateway corridors.