In an effort to continue its mission to promote development in downtown Beverly, the city’s Main Streets program is accepting applications for the 2013 Façade and Sign Improvement Program.
Applications are due by Thursday February 28.
Businesses and property owners in the designated downtown district are eligible to apply for a grant of up to $5,000 to get a new sign, add new lighting, paint their building, or expand their entryways. In addition to the grant, participants will receive up to two hours of help from local architects who donate their time to support the program.
The city will also match each dollar that business and property owners spend on enhancing the outside of their building. The total amount of money that the city puts aside for the program is $25,000.
“It’s an ongoing program that makes incremental improvements each year,” said Beverly Mayor William F. Scanlon Jr. “After a few years we have decent progress. We’ve been supporting this now for as long as I can remember.”
The streets in the designated downtown district include all of Park Street, River Street and Rantoul Street, as well as the area from Salem Bridge on Cabot Street, all the way to Gloucester Crossing.
Last year about seven property owners applied for the program and this year one or two more are expected to apply, said Gin Wallace, Main Streets executive director. It is a way to make individual property better, which in turn has an impact on the entire block, she added.
“It makes a significant physical improvement to the district,” Wallace said. “It’s a way to incentiveize property owners who might not otherwise be able to afford upgrades to their business. It’s important to attract residents and visitors.”
Wallace said that there are some blocks that Main Streets target to encourage property owners to take advantage of the program. The businesses that aren’t within those blocks have yet to complain about not getting first dibs on the grant.
“They may not be thrilled with the policy, but in conversations with the city we feel that’s the best use of the money,” Wallace said. “We have to make sure that the money is well-utilized. Sometimes you have to make those tough decisions. We try to at least give them something. “