It may have been a slow start for the façade improvement program in Midland’s Center City, but area business owners have really embraced the program over the past year. Just $17,000 remains of the initial $150,000 available to the program, and much of it has been spent over the latter half of the program’s three-year existence.
Modeled after Downtown Midland’s façade improvement program, the version in Center City offers district businesses up to $5,000 in matching funding and/or $10,000 in interest-free loans when fixing up business exteriors. Projects include new and improved signage, paint jobs, parking lots, landscape work and more.
And while just $17,000 remains, much of the initial funding will be returned as businesses pay back their loans, replenishing the coffers and allowing the program to award more grants and loans in the future.
So far, seventeen Center City businesses have taken advantage of the program.
Smith's Flowers now sports a bright red and white exterior.Selina Tisdale, Executive Director for the Center City Authority and City of Midland Community Affairs Director, says that as business owners grew more familiar with the program, they became more likely to buy into it. As one business improved their property, their neighbors were much more likely to improve theirs, as well. That snowball effect was always the goal.
"The façade improvement program has been one of the first tools we’ve put in place to incentivize improvements in Center City," Tisdale says. "It’s a way to galvanize a cohesiveness as a district."
The initial $150,000 was made possible by the Entranceways Initiative Task Force. It’s part of a larger vision for Midland that focuses on fixing up the gateways to the city. The thinking goes that people are more likely to stop and visit Midland shops and businesses when greeted with a good first impression.
Visit the Center City website to learn more about the façade improvement program application process.Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.