Owners on board with façade plan

If there was any doubt about whether downtown Greenwood business owners wanted new façades, the overwhelming response to the program should dispel it.

All but one building owner is interested in taking part in the façade renovation program being planned by the city, if Greenwood can get a $400,000 state grant. Thirty-three of 35 façades would be redone.

The owner of 188 S. Madison Avenue said no. And the owner of the Frameworks shop at 152 S. Madison Ave. doesn’t want to spend more on that building since he recently remodeled but does want to redo the building he owns next door, Greenwood senior planner Ed Ferguson said.

The total price tag for the project has risen since the initial estimates for construction came in just above $770,000. Engineers updated the numbers based on recent projects including brick work, window and door replacements or construction labor, which upped the price to just more than $1 million.

The city’s total budget for the project will be about $1.2 million, which includes expenses for additional design work and grant administration, Ferguson said. That amount will come from $400,000 in grant funds, if awarded, $600,000 in tax money from the city’s redevelopment commission, and $200,000 from building owners. Owners will pay a 20 percent match on the construction cost for their building, Ferguson said.

“When we got the original cost estimates from the architect, we looked at them and had some of our construction people look at them. The general consensus was we thought they were a little bit low for the amount of work that was done,” he said.

The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive, Ferguson said. The city originally thought it might have to set up some sort of scoring system to rank buildings based on priority if it didn’t have enough money to do every building, but it shouldn’t need to do that now, Ferguson said.

The large commitment from the redevelopment commission will help ensure everyone can get their building remodeled, if they want, Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said. Although the city will cover about half the cost with tax dollars, if the façade work helps grow property values downtown, increases business and helps improve the city’s image, all of those will help the city recoup those tax dollars in coming years, he said.

“I’m very happy that the redevelopment commission also realizes what a huge shot in the arm it is to get everyone involved and they’re willing to step up and match that grant with a little extra. Everybody is on board. Everybody is wanting to help out,” Myers said.

The building owners also strongly back the project, showing they’re willing to put up their money, too, in order to get the project done, said Chuck Landon, a member of the city’s economic development commission and Restore Old Town Greenwood group. Getting almost 100 percent of building owners willing to work with the city and match 20 percent of the cost proves this type of project has been in demand for a long time, he said.

“A year and a half ago, I went around and sat with almost all of the building owners and discussed it with them, and they wanted it. They all want it. It’s common sense. It’s good business. It’s a win-win for everybody,” Landon said.

But the city first must get the state grant, which isn’t guaranteed.

The city will host a public hearing to discuss the grant application on Feb. 24, and the proposal is due to the state March 20, Ferguson said. The state Office of Community and Rural Affairs, which controls the grant money, then would conduct site visits in the spring in each of the communities that apply. A final proposal will have to be turned in by summer, and the state will make a decision in July.

Ready for facades

Here’s a look at the facade renovation project Greenwood is planning. The city’s application to the state is due March 20.

Total project budget: $1.2 million

Building owners interested: 22 of 23

Facades to be renovated: 33 of 35

Estimated construction cost: $1.04 million

Maximum grant amount: $400,000

City funding promised: $600,000 in tax-increment financing district funds

Building owner match: 20 percent of construction cost for their building, approximately $200,000 total

SOURCE: Greenwood Planning Department