Fresh off a vote to allow missing middle housing types such as duplexes and quads that had previously been outlawed, the City of Decatur is taking another step that could help its celebrated downtown become a more inviting urban place.

The Decatur Downtown Development Authority announced today it will launch a program that funnels cash to business owners hoping to tackle everything from busted lighting, tired landscaping, outdated seating, and graffiti on public walls—with an overarching goal of boosting downtown’s curb appeal.

Called the Commercial Facade Improvement Grant Program, or CFIG, the new initiative will allocate $100,000 for projects focused on maintaining and beautifying downtown storefronts.

It works like this: Retailers and restauranteurs will be able to apply quarterly for grants that cover 75 percent of any approved projects. The minimum DDA contribution will be $2,500, and the max $10,000. (Also, a total of 10 microgrants worth $1,000 each will be available for simpler jobs such as power-washing and graffiti removal.)   

The first 21-day window to apply for CFIG funds will open Monday.  

Decatur's charming retail row near the city's MARTA station, as seen during Christmastime several years ago. Courtesy of Jonathan Phillips

After that three-week window closes, the DDA will review submissions and announce winners, so to speak, following a DDA meeting March 10. One stipulation is that all approved projects must begin within six months, and wrap up within 18 months, of approval.

“Keeping downtown Decatur vibrant doesn’t happen automatically, so we took the proactive step of launching this program to support the restaurants and retailers that make our community thrive,” Conor McNally, DDA chair, said in today’s announcement. “Whether it’s something as simple as a coat of paint or as complex as designing and installing new signage, our goal is to make sure we remain an attractive place to do business—both for our current and future retailers.” 

Here’s a shortlist of projects that will qualify under the CFIG scope:

·       Masonry repairs

·       Storefront reconstruction

·       Exterior painting and stucco

·       Awnings and canopies

·       Window and door repairs and replacements

·       Permanent exterior lighting

·       Repair/replacement of gutters and down spouts

·       Repairs to roofs (affecting the building’s facade)

·       Sign design and installation

·       Decking and stairs

·       Improvement to outdoor seating areas and landscape


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