Muskegon DDA expands successful facade grant program

What’s happening: After a successful first year of a downtown facade grant program, the Muskegon Downtown Development Authority has expanded the program to improve the exteriors of downtown businesses and commercial properties.

How they’re doing it: For the 2023-24 fiscal year, the DDA has increased the pool of grant funds available by 60% to $100,000. Individual businesses or commercial property owners within the downtown district can receive up to $15,000 on a first-come, first-serve basis. The number of grants will be limited by the budgeted amount. The grants are available on a one-to-one match. Thus, a $5,000 grant will support at least a $10,000 façade improvement.

Why’s it important: The DDA’s goal is to upgrade the look and function of commercial buildings within its boundaries by encouraging tenant businesses or building owners to make exterior improvements. Such improvements will enhance the individual property’s value, as well as uplift the block in which the property is located and the overall district.

What they are saying: “DDA members were impressed with the interest in the grants and use of those funds last year,” says Contessa Alexander, city’s DDA manager. “We have seen concrete improvements that help businesses thrive and be sustainable.”

What happened in the first year: Last year’s grants supported six businesses, ranging from accessible picnic tables for customers to exterior painting to an accessible lift to get customers to a second-story rooftop deck for a new restaurant. Accessibility upgrades are eligible in the grant program.

How it works: This is a reimbursement-oriented program to ensure that proposed work follows city codes and ordinances and is consistent with the character of the downtown district. Those unable to complete their exterior work within 12 months are able to request an extension.

Learn more about the DDA façade grant program and how to apply here.
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Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.