Moline is increasing the number and reach of its facade programs and making it easier for business and property owners to find out if they qualify for any city assistance programs.|
Pat Burke, Moline economic development manager, said the city has two facade programs and two loan programs for new and existing businesses. "Overall, we are trying to improve the climate in our business corridors."
This year, the city will offer$57,500 in grants and forgivable loans for facade improvements, Rebecca Gall, Moline's historic preservation specialist, said.
The city launched a five-year forgivable facade loan program in the downtown in 2004. Property owners are reimbursed one-third of the project cost -- this year up to$7,500 -- for work such astuck-pointing, painting, new windows, awnings and lighting.
When funds were available in 2008-10, Moline offered the facade program city-wide. It will do so again this year, said Pam Owens, Moline Main Street program coordinator.
The city also is launching a newStorefront Restoration Grant for Small Businesses. It will cover one-third of the cost -- up to $2,500 -- for storefront rehab or things such as signs, paint or awnings. The applicant does not have to own the property but can be leasing the space.
"We are very eager to promote both these programs to commercial areas outside the downtown," Ms. Gall said, adding that property owners and businesses in Olde Towne, Uptown, Avenue of the Cities and Riverside are encouraged to apply.
All business and property owners who apply will be offered design oversight because the committee that reviews facade grant and loan applications includes architects. The committee has offered such services to downtown property owners in the past, which Ms. Owens believes has led to better projects.
Last year, the city awarded five downtown facade loans totaling $42,490. The total project investment by those property owners was $2.4 million, Ms. Owens said.
In nine years, the city has awarded$599,713 in forgivable downtown facade loans, she said.
Property and business owners can learn if they are eligible for those programs by filing out a form that also looks at their eligibility for two small business loan programs.
Moline's Micro-Enterprise Loan Program provides up to $10,000 to start-up businesses with five or fewer employees. The city'sRevolving Loan Fund provides secondary financing, up to $7,500 per job created, to bridge a gap and ensure a project moves forward, Mr. Burke said.
The amount of money the city has available in the program varies, as the payments on outstanding loans are put back into the funds and used to make new loans.
Mr. Burke said the last loan issued through either program was in 2010, and he believes the stagnant economy resulted in few inquiries. "It would be great if more people would be interested," he said.
To receive a form, call Ms. Gall at (309) 524-2053 or Mr. Burke at (309) 524-2034. More information is also available at moline.il.us.
Luchair Designs received facade funds
MOLINE -- The renovation of a former distressed storefront in downtown Moline has garnered the owners more than a few compliments from customers, neighbors and passers-by.
Luchair Designs opened at 417 14th St., Moline, on Nov. 5, offering custom invitations and a full service hair salon that specializes in bridal hair and make-up.
Previously, the building was an antique store with storefront windows outlined in bright red and green paint and a plywood sign hiding a line of historic windows.
Early last year, Kerry Walsh and his wife, Kristen, bought the building. They partnered with his sister, Jenny Walsh, to open the invitation business with plans to expand and create a one-stop shop for brides.
They said a top-quality renovation of the building was a priority. It was achieved with a $7,500 five-year forgivable facade improvement loan from the city, Mr. Walsh said.
Luchair was one of five downtown Moline businesses receiving a facade improvement loan in 2012. Moline gave out $42,490 last year and is expanding its facade programs this year.
Mr. Walsh said after they bought the building they began researching to see if any state or city assistance was available for the rehab and renovation and learned about Moline's facade program. He said city staffers walked them through the application and approval process.
They hired an architect to help with the exterior of the 1904 building and made the windows on the south side of the building larger, cleaned up the stucco, painted, repaired brick, stripped green paint off copper attached to the front of the building, added a copper overhang and lights and restored and highlighted other architectural details.
The inside of the building was renovated, too.
Mr. Walsh said they are first-time business owners and likely under-budgeted. "Without the facade funds, we would have had to cut corners," he said, adding that sticking to the quality rehab and renovation they planned was important. "We are selling weddings," he said.
Mr. Walsh recommends businesses and properties considering a facade loan apply early this year, as the city's available funds go quickly.
He said people have noticed the change in the storefront and tell them so. "We are blessed to be in a great neighborhood and hope we are adding something to it."
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