A program to give out a half-million dollars in grants to pay for renovations to downtown Greenwood businesses is nearly out of money, and now the city is looking at whether the effort to help property owners make improvements should continue.
The GROW program was set up by the Greenwood Redevelopment Commission to award grants to businesses along Main Street and Madison Avenue in downtown Greenwood to make exterior improvements, such as new siding or landscaping. The matching grants of up to $50,000 per property were intended to spur redevelopment of the buildings along two main entryways into the downtown area.
Nearly a year into the program, the redevelopment commission has approved giving out more than $400,000 in grants to 13 projects, which is 80 percent of its $500,000 budget for the program. And the program doesn’t have enough money to pay for all the grants businesses want.
“We’ve had a good, successful year thus far,” redevelopment commission president Brent Tilson said. “We’re getting a lot of properties moving. We’re seeing what we want to see get done.”
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The program has funded exterior renovations with much of the work focusing on siding, windows, landscaping and signs. Many of the properties have been homes previously converted into retail or office space.
“I think it did what it was intended to do,” Tilson said. “We didn’t want to have the facade project be an island unto itself. We wanted to encourage development of other properties in the area.”
The most recent grants approved earlier this month included $24,000 for new windows, landscaping and signs at 100 N. Madison Ave. and $33,000 for new siding, gutters, windows, doors, paint and signs at 271 N. Madison Ave. The buildings have a mixture of retail and office space, with tenants including hair salons and an accountant.
Isaac Brewer, a local entrepreneur who purchased 100 N. Madison Ave. for $450,000 earlier this year, said he could sense the new energy downtown.
Brewer also received a $21,000 grant for work to a property he purchased at 599 E. Main St., has space for two businesses to rent. The upcoming improvements to Madison Avenue, which will be reconstructed from County Line Road to Smith Valley Road along with a new bike lane, were part of why he wanted to buy and renovate the Madison Avenue property as well, he said.
“I’m hopeful that bike path will work out and brings more foot traffic in,” Brewer said.
Whether the developer is a longtime owner or a new buyer, the benefit to the city is the increased value of the property and the taxes collected from it, Tilson said.
With the program now close to running out of funds, the city board will need to consider whether any more money should be invested in it, he said. That could come down to how much money the redevelopment commission has available, with a lengthy list of projects being considered for the future, Tilson said.
If the program continues, the redevelopment commission may invest a smaller amount of money, such as $200,000, with a $20,000 cap per property, he said.
Thirteen applications for GROW program grants have been approved by the Greenwood Redevelopment Commission:
- 223 to 241 Main St.: (two properties): $83,000
- 622 Madison Ave.: $25,000
- 401 Camby Court: $38,000
- 599 E. Main St.: $21,000
- 410 E. Main St.: $14,000
- 280 W. Main St.: $19,000
- 194 to 202 W. Main St.: $28,000
- 399 W. Main St.: $29,500
- 263. N. Madison Ave.: $32,000
- 384, 390 and 399 N. Madison Ave.: $50,000
- 616 N. Madison Ave.: $21,000
- 100 N. Madison Ave.: $24,000
- 271 N. Madison Ave.: $33,000