Greenwood plans to give out a half-million dollars in grants to help pay for renovations to downtown buildings.

So far, two projects have been approved, totaling more than $100,000, which will pay for façade work to two buildings with multiple businesses.

The Greenwood Redevelopment Commission set aside $500,000 this summer for a program to assist businesses along Main Street and Madison Avenue with making improvements to their properties. The city board approved guidelines for spending the funds, along with two projects proposed last week.

The goal of the grant program is to help pay for projects to revitalize downtown Greenwood and the areas around it with the most traffic, Greenwood capital projects manager Kevin Steinmetz said. The program will fund primarily exterior improvements to buildings, such as façades, windows, and lighting, as well as art, landscaping and masonry. New construction, temporary improvements or properties that would be exempt from property taxes will not be considered.

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Developer Ken Johnson plans to make multiple improvements to the façades of four adjacent properties from 223 to 241 Main St. Johnson will receive about $83,000, or half of his $166,000 project.

His plans include demolishing the existing storefront and reinstalling 10-foot tall glass panels, reinstalling the original windows on the front of the second floor of the building and repairing and replacing bricks.

“I just believe in the vision of Old Town Greenwood becoming a lot more than what it is today,” Johnson said.

“Five years from now, you won’t recognize downtown Greenwood.”

Johnson’s project is a great example of the revitalization the city is trying to encourage, redevelopment commission president Brent Tilson said.

Grants approved through the program will focus on projects that upgrade the aesthetic appeal of a significant building, promote retail foot traffic and create or retain jobs.

Johnson’s building has two vacant spaces, along with a first-floor beauty salon and two apartments and an accounting firm on the second floor. He is negotiating with a restaurant interested in moving into the two vacant spots. If the restaurant plans proceed, an outdoor deck would be added as well. His goal is to make all of the improvements to the property and have the restaurant up and running by May 1.

He wants his property on Main Street to complement other newer businesses, such as Revery, a restaurant east of his property.

“A high tide raises all ships,” Johnson said. “When we can elevate downtown Greenwood it will elevate property values in the area.”

The plans, which include returning to the original brick, are appropriate for what the city intends downtown Greenwood to look like, redevelopment commission member Don Cummings said.

Johnson highlighted downtown Franklin as a model Greenwood should look to, with its many restaurants and walkable streets.

“Franklin has done an incredible job with its downtown,” he said.

The Franklin Development Corp. operates a similar grant program. The nonprofit, primarily funded through tax-increment financing, or TIF, district dollars collected by the city, provides grants and loans to Franklin businesses for façade improvements.

Other cities in the Indianapolis area, such as Carmel and Fishers, are investing in their downtown areas, and Greenwood needs to do the same, Johnson said.

In order to be considered for Greenwood’s new grant program, applicants will need to provide an outline of the project, cost estimates and proof that they can pay their share of the costs. The city will award matching grants of up to $50,000. If a proposal includes more than one parcel of property, it is eligible for up to $50,000 per parcel.

The city will pay its share of the project directly to the contractors, rather than as a refund to the property owners, a move that will help small businesses since they won’t have to raise 100 percent of the project costs up front, Steinmetz said.

The city will check to make sure the property isn’t behind on any taxes, fees or mortgage payments.

The redevelopment commission has committed $500,000 to the grant program, but has the option to continue it further, he said. The city funds for the project will come from the east side TIF district, which collects property tax dollars from certain developments on the east side of Greenwood. The money is set aside for infrastructure and economic development.

Besides Johnson’s project, the commission also approved up to $25,000 in a matching grant for improvements for a building complex on Madison Avenue.

Marie and Kevin Storm run their business, Storm Chiropractic, out of the complex at 622 Madison Ave. and rent the remaining space for a Montessori school, dentist, dermatologist, counselor, music therapy and a nonprofit organization.

The buildings, constructed in the 1970s, were in poor condition when the couple purchased the property, Marie Storm said.

They’ve already made improvements, including new roofing, she said. The grant would allow other improvements to the property — landscaping, signage, gutters, windows, painting, rot removal, lighting and fencing — to be made much earlier than planned, Storm said.

At a glance

A new Greenwood program — called G.R.O.W. — will award up to $500,000 in matching grants to Greenwood businesses along Main Street and Madison Avenue.

Eligible locations

  • Main Street, from U.S. 31 to Graham Road
  • Madison Avenue, from Main Street to County Line Road

Eligible projects

  • facades, windows, cornices, awnings and architectural details
  • signs
  • decorative lighting
  • decorative fencing
  • patio improvements
  • exterior art
  • landscaping improvements
  • voluntary demolition of blighted structures
  • sustainability-driven infrastructure
  • masonry improvements

Non-eligible projects

  • new buildings
  • construction in progress
  • residential buildings, except for demolition
  • buildings constructed in the last five years
  • structural remediation
  • improvements to bring property up to city code
  • HVAC improvements
  • roof replacement or repairs
  • routine maintenance or repairs
  • interior improvements
  • improvements intended to be temporary

At a glance

A new Greenwood program will provide grants to property owners looking to make improvements to their businesses. Here is a look at the first two projects approved:

223 – 241 West Main St.

Total cost: $166,000

City grant: $83,000

Project details: The existing storefront will be demolished. Ten-foot-tall glass panels and windows will be reinstalled. Repairs will be made to the exterior brick and all of the doors will be replaced.

622 Madison Ave.

Total cost: Up to $50,000

City grant: Up to $25,000

Project: Improvements include landscaping, signs, gutters, windows, painting, rot removal, lighting and fencing.

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Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.