The Mebane City Council approved during the March meeting five downtown Mebane businesses’ requests for funding through the city’s new Downtown Exterior Improvements Grant to allow them to make exterior improvements to their places of business.
In the City of Mebane’s 2022 fiscal year budget, $50,000 was allocated by the city council for a general downtown improvement grant and, during the November meeting, the council approved the grant program. The deadline for immediate consideration was February 15, but the application process is ongoing, and funds will continue to be available until they are exhausted.
Applicants apply for up to 50 percent of the total cost for approved exterior improvements, or the maximum of $10,000 per property.
Applicants are required to get two quotes on the cost of the improvements, so the city could review the quotes and contact the contractors. Additionally, improvements that encroach into city right of ways and easements are subject to city approval prior to construction.
The funding will be reimbursed to applicants after the completion of the improvements – all work must be completed and paid for prior to receiving reimbursement. Receipts are required to be shown prior to receiving any funds and the applicant’s business or property must also be located within the Mebane Downtown Vision Plan area.
In November, the council decided that the improvements must be completed within one year of the date of approval for the grant.
The city narrowed down four areas for the qualified improvements to be made, Development Director Cy Stober said in November.
“Through direction by council and discussion with management, we’ve basically come up with four categories: façade improvements, including restoration; historic preservation, including unique architectural features; public art, on the walls of the buildings; and outdoor seating, this especially became a pressing need during [the Covid-19 pandemic] but it’s proven to be very popular,” he said.
The city received 10 applications ahead of the first-round deadline, five that were eligible and one which was eligible but withdrawn by the applicant.
The downtown businesses awarded funds are: Welcome Finance at 112 West Center Street, Solgarden at 115 North Fourth Street, Packard Cabinetry at 115 West Clay Street and 115-A West Clay Street, Clay Street Tavern at 130 West Clay Street and Kivett Place at 203 West Clay Street.
Welcome Finance will have their roughly 61-feet of old 10-foot-tall wooden fence removed and replaced with a new 8-foot-tall western red cedar fence. The new fence would bring it into conformance with city standards. The business requested $2,480 in grant funds, all of which they were awarded.
Solgarden will replace their existing awning, which has canvas damage, on their Clay Street side. The business requested $300 for the project and was awarded the full amount.
Packard Cabinetry will have their front façade refurbished, including restoration of the original leaded glass transom, construction of a matching window for transom above the second-floor entryway, repainting of both the buildings’ entryways and trim and installation of custom window boxes on the second story. The business requested $5,943 from the city for the project and was awarded the total amount.
Clay Street Tavern and Provisions will replace the broken storefront windows, adding new glass, tint and window decals. The business requested $1,223.66 from the city for the project and was awarded the full amount requested.
Kivett Place, the building home to The Twisted Knitter, RS Jones and Associates and North Star Marketing, will have the building’s brick repointed, replace the exterior awning and paint the exterior of the building. The property owner requested the maximum amount of $10,000 and was awarded the full requested amount.
Stober noted that some of the improvements approved last week will need permitting.
Mebane Mayor Ed Hooks said the grant program is intended to encourage downtown businesses and property owners to improve their buildings. “It’s an impetus to get somebody to look at updating their facility, no matter how small [the update].”
The city fulfilled roughly $20,000 in grant requests during the March meeting, leaving around $30,000 in unused funds that will need to be dispersed before the end of the fiscal year.
City Manager Chris Rollins told the council they can expect to review more applications in the coming months and Stober said he expects additional applications to come before council in April.
However, once the city’s Main Street Program and its board are established, the selection process will be reevaluated by the council to decide which body makes the final decision in which businesses receive funding.
More downtown businesses and property owners are encouraged to apply for the grant, as the application period will remain open until the funds run out.
Councilmember Sean Ewing made the motion to approve the five applications for the full amount requested by each business, with Mayor Pro Tem Tim Bradley seconding,
The grant application can be found on page 247 of the November 1 Mebane City Council agenda packet (link here: https://cityofmebanenc.gov/meetings/city-council-meeting-november-1-2021/#/tab-agenda-packet).