GREAT STREETS AKRON MATCHING FAÇADE GRANT PROGRAM GUIDELINES

NOTE: These federal funds REQUIRE historic coordination for buildings over 50 years and for buildings in a historic district (Aster Ave, Kenmore Blvd).  If funds are approved, businesses with historic designation MUST work with architect specializing in historic renovation AND accept their recommendations.

Notes about Federal Funds

· This program is funded with Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). As such, the program is subject to federal regulation and review by federal.

· Please note: businesses are qualified at the federal level based on household earnings of the census block in which they are located. Businesses in the Wallhaven and Ellet districts do not qualify for the Matching Façade Grant.

Program Eligibility and Application

· Owners of business property in specified Great Streets areas are eligible to apply for financial assistance under this program. Preference is given to established businesses. All applicants must be pre-qualified by the City to receive assistance according to Federal guidelines.  Applications will be ranked based on pre-determined criteria provided on page 16 of this packet. It is not guaranteed that all applicants will receive assistance.

· Property owners must be current on taxes OR have been making faithful payments for six months prior to applying. Property owners must continue to make faithful payments and/or stay current on taxes until the project is completed.

· Project eligibility must be confirmed by the Office of Integrated Development. Application forms may be obtained online at www.greatstreetsakron.com, or from the Office of Integrated Development Staff at (330) 375-2355.

· A DUNS number (Dun & Bradstreet) is required for use of federal funds. The application takes only a few minutes to fill out, and you should be assigned a DUNS number within 30 days, or as soon as 48 hours. Go online to www.dnb.com to apply. If awarded a grant, you MUST submit a DUNS number BEFORE your contract can proceed.

· After receipt of an application and confirmation of a possible grant award, a representative of the Office of Integrated Development will contact the applicant. The representative will meet with eligible applicants to review their property, offer recommendations for building and site improvements, and assist the applicant through the review process.

Matching Grants for Façade and Site Improvements

· Matching grants from the City are available only for exterior improvements and/or site improvements. Eligible items include façade renovation, brick and masonry cleaning, installation of new doors and windows, signage improvements, outdoor lighting, outdoor security cameras, roofing, paving and landscaping of on-site parking areas and architectural fees. HVAC and building additions do not generally qualify for assistance.

· Proposed improvements will be reviewed for compliance with building and zoning code standards, including hard surfacing and landscape screening of parking areas.

· Grants must be matched dollar-for-dollar by private funds. Applicants must provide proof of financial means for their share of project funding to the City prior to the start of construction. Architectural fees may be used as part of private matching share.

· Grant funds will be disbursed only AFTER the City has verified the completion of work, and final paid invoices have been submitted. Please note these are REIMBURSEMENT grant funds for completed work.

· Project improvement costs are eligible for payment only if completed AFTER approval by the Office of Integrated Development and subject to the dates specified within the signed contract between the City and the recipient.

· Maximum grant is $30,000.

· Grants are awarded by building, rather than address or parcel. This means a strip mall/plaza would be eligible for one grant; an owner with multiple separate structures on the same parcel would be able to apply for each structure.

· Since these façade improvement grants are public funds, participants will be expected to get at least three bids for their project. This allows for some assurance that the project pricing is competitive and that there is an opportunity to support local businesses.

· As stated above, two or more official construction bids are encouraged before the application goes to final approval. For this purpose, preliminary construction estimates from a licensed contractor are strongly encouraged with your application. This puts the scope of the project in context to the applicant and speeds up the final approval phase. It is highly recommended that an applicant begin collecting construction bids once they receive a preliminary approval letter.

· The selected contractor(s) are required to maintain a business license with Summit County, as well as, insurance coverage in the type and amounts deemed necessary by the City. Additionally, selected contractors must comply with Federal requirements and restrictions related to fair labor standards, equal opportunity employment, conflict of interest and certain environmental protection issues.

· ALL contractors must be registered in the SAM’s.

· All required permits for renovation activities will be verified for each project and must be submitted with invoices. If permits are not obtained prior to renovation activities, invoices will not be paid. For information on required permits, please contact the Summit County Building Department at 330-630-7280.

APPLICATION PROCESS

Applications released – Rolling

Applications due – Rolling

Preliminary Approval Letters – As awarded

Site Visits – As scheduled

Application Review: Varies (See Below)

Application Review Process:

· After site visits, buildings 50yrs or older OR buildings residing in a historic districts (Kenmore Blvd, Aster Ave), applications will be sent for review by an architect specializing in historic renovation. Projects in historic districts must be approved by historic architect.

· Once final construction bids and proof of matching funds are received, application is then sent to committee for final review. We cannot move forward with processing your application if finalized bids are not submitted.

· The duration of this process varies. The more complete your application is when submitted, the more expedited the process (ie. Including a detailed scope of the project, all supplementary documentation, all construction bids, and visual architectural renderings (highly encouraged).

· Once approved by the review committee, a contract will be prepared and sent for signature. None of the work outlined in your application should begin before you have signed a contract.  This is to your benefit, as receipts submitted outside the timeline of the contract may be delayed or denied.

· A DUNS number (Dun & Bradstreet) MUST be submitted before your contract can proceed.

· Grant awardees must submit a copy of their certificate of insurance, with the city of Akron added on as an additional insured, including additional insured endorsement for commercial general liability.

· Upon receipt of your signed contract, you will be notified that your contractors may secure permits and begin work.

Payment upon receipt of invoices: The City makes payment upon receipt of invoices and successful completion of work. You may submit invoices as work is completed; you do not have to wait until the entire project is complete. Ten percent is withheld on each payment until the overall project is completely finished. Checks are usually issued 2-4 weeks after invoices are received if a contract is in place.

PROJECT SUGGESTIONS AND OTHER NOTES

Our committee often encounters business owners who want to do something but they aren’t quite sure what to do. Here are some best practices, things we like to see, and comments we typically make when reviewing applications. If you are still uncertain about what you would like to do, please contact Mark Greer at mark.greer@akronohio.gov, 330-375-2355.

· Improved lighting to all sides of the building and parking lots (lighting side streets and side/back alleys serve to improve safety and increase walkability)

· Install awnings over doors and windows

· Install outdoor security cameras

· Install outdoor patio seating

· Adding green space/planters.

· Invest in signage (see signage guidelines for more details.)

· Mural installation on exposed wall

· Installing large storefront windows/opening closed off windows

· Landscaping improvements

· Power washing building façade

· Creating landscaping in large parking lots/landscaping edge to parking lot

· Beautifying the rear and sides of the building especially where there is access to alleys and parking lots.

Other things to note:

· Coordinating with neighbors on shared parking, landscaping, signage, awnings, lighting, etc., helps create a cohesive look and feel to the neighborhood and can reduce costs if choosing the same company/contractor.

· Parking lot repairs, roof repairs, and other general maintenance work should typically not be the ONLY improvements done. Projects with these repairs should also include an improvement to the façade of the business (see above list for suggestions).

Visit the resources section of our website Greatstreetsakron.com for additional resources, design guide and reference documents.

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.