Along two major downtown Greenwood streets, businesses have a new look as a result of a city program to spur renovations.
A Greenwood program that has provided grants to business owners along Madison Avenue and Main Street to help them make exterior improvements to their properties could run out of funds as soon as this month.
But a city board may choose to wait and gauge the impact of half-a-million dollars in grants before deciding whether more funding should be added.
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The GROW program was set up in the fall of 2016 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.
Of the $500,000 initially set aside for the program, about $436,000 has been approved for 18 grants covering 20 properties.
Improvements have been finished to eight of the properties. Work is underway on six properties with projects on the remaining six set to begin in the spring, Greenwood Capital Projects Manager Kevin Steinmetz said.
Those projects have included new landscaping, siding, gutters, windows and fencing to businesses in a 1970s era building at 622 Madison Ave. and improvements to a former home at 599 E. Main Street, such as adding commercial doors and windows so that the property looks more like a business.
Once the remaining grant funds are awarded, which could happen as early as the redevelopment commission’s January meeting, redevelopment commission president Brent Tilson said he would prefer to wait before determining whether to refund the program or create a similar new grant program.
“We want to see the overall impact on the area before we would do it again,” Tilson said.
While he said that he’s happy with the improvements made directly from the grants, what he wants to watch now is to see if this investment is spurring other businesses owners to make improvements and whether this is having any impact on property values along Madison Avenue and Main Street. The idea behind the program was that getting improvements started would encourage other business owners to do the same, and that the work would increase property values, and therefor the property taxes the city receives, he said.
This spring, the city plans to begin work on reconstruction a portion of Madison Avenue, and the GROW program projects fit in with the overall attempt to beautify that stretch of Greenwood, Tilson said.
The program has been a win-win for the city and businesses, redevelopment commission member Mike Tapp said.
“At the end of the day, the GROW program has indeed worked, and has done exactly what we wanted it to do,” he said.
Whether the redevelopment commission will refund the program or create a similar one hasn’t been determined, but Tapp said he is open to the idea based on what he has seen from the GROW program so far.
Redevelopment commission member Chuck Landon, who was appointed to the board after the GROW program had already started, said he has never been convinced that funding business renovations is an appropriate use of the property taxes collected by the TIF district.
Citing concerns about the ability of business owners to resell properties at higher values after having received the grants and that redevelopment commission funds should primarily be spent on infrastructure projects, he’s been the lone vote against awarding the grants.
Tilson said he was open to considering certain changes, such as having grant recipients who resell their property shortly after the work is complete return the grant money, should the GROW program be refunded.
18 applications for GROW program grants have been approved by the Greenwood Redevelopment Commission. Here’s a look at where those improvements have been completed or are planned and how much money was awarded:
- 622 N. Madison Ave.,$25,000
- 401 Camby Court,$38,000
- 599 E. Main St.,$21,000
- 181 S. Madison Ave.,$19,000
- 410 E. Main St.,$14,500
- 399 W. Main St.,$29,500
- 194-202 W. Main St.,$28,000
- 263 N. Madison Ave.,$32,000
- 271 N. Madison Ave.,$33,000
- 384, 390 and 399 N. Madison Ave.,$50,000
- 616 N. Madison Ave.,$21,000
- 100 S. Madison Ave.,$16,500
- 100 N. Madison Ave.,$24,000
- 52. S. Madison Ave.,$12,000
- 150 N. Madison Ave.,$23,500
- 484 N. Madison Ave.,$15,500
- 375 N. Madison Ave., $5,700
- 540 N. Madison Ave., $28,000
Total awarded: $436,000