Matching Grant Funds Can Give Older Properties a Face-Lift

Posted Nov 4th, 2019 in Feat of the Week

Although we all know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, the physical appearance of Downtown Wilmington plays a big part in attracting and retaining businesses. When the center city looks good, more people want to shop, dine and play here and that makes downtown more appealing to new investors.

In recent years, Downtown Wilmington has experienced tremendous growth and new buildings are great news for the health and wealth of the city. On the flip side, many of the older buildings have suffered wear and tear from exposure to the elements and some require restoration. To help building owners make these enhancements, a Façade Improvement Program was established in 2017 and is funded by the Municipal Service District (MSD).

Awards are available on a matching basis to cover up to 50 percent of the cost to renovate a building façade. The maximum available is $2,500 for a property. Corner properties may be eligible for up to $5,000 for work on two, street-facing sides of the building. Grant funds are allocated by the MSD each year on July 1 and are available on a first-come, first-served basis until all the funds have been awarded. Since 2017, seven downtown properties have received grant funding for façade restoration.

This year, a total of $12,000 is available. One property has already benefitted. The former Washington’s Barber Shop at 1016 North 4th Street received matching grant funds to replace storefront windows and doors and install a new parapet. We think you’ll agree, the results are impressive (see before and after photos below).

Applications are encouraged from any property or business owner within the MSD. Certain restrictions apply and applicants with buildings inside the local historic district must seek approval from the Historic Preservation Commission before applying. Follow this link for more information on potential projects and, if eligible, complete the application here.

In addition to façade improvement grants, funds are available for landscaping to improve parking lots and other spaces. Landscape Improvement Grants are available on a matching basis to cover up to 50 percent of the project cost with a maximum of $1,500. For corner properties, projects may be eligible for up to $3,000.

These grants are great for screening off unattractive areas or for beautifying lots by landscaping with trees, shrubs or flowers. If you are interested and your property meets the requirements, you can apply here.

Brochures and application forms are also available at the Wilmington Downtown Inc. office at 221 N. Front Street. If you wish to discuss your project before applying, please contact staff at (910) 763-7349.