Grant Program to Encourage Facade Improvements for Businesses Along Central Ave
In a collaborative effort with the Columbia Heights Police Department, the Columbia Heights Economic Development Authority has created a Façade Improvement Grant Program for businesses along Central Ave. Commercial property owners will be able to submit a grant application starting June 29. The application deadline is July 27.
The purpose of the grant program, funded by the EDA, is to encourage businesses and commercial property owners within the City’s central business district to revitalize, rehabilitate, and restore exterior store fronts. In an effort to reduce crime along Central Ave and enhance safety, the CHPD will also use the grant program to provide monitored surveillance adjacent to the businesses.
The grant program reimburses commercial property owners for eligible improvements up to 50 percent of the total project cost for a maximum reimbursement of $5,000. If determined by the Police Department that an exterior surveillance system is warranted, the EDA will install surveillance equipment to monitor participating businesses and properties, as well as parks and open spaces.
But even without the surveillance equipment, the façade improvements alone should reduce crime, said Police Chief Lenny Austin.
“Anytime we see significant cosmetic improvements to areas and neighborhoods, that helps reduce crime,” Austin said. “It shows businesses are willing to invest in those neighborhoods.”
Fixed and improved lighting also reduces criminal behavior, he said. Combine that with the surveillance cameras, which not only scare off crooks but also make it much easier for police to catch criminals, and Central Ave is expected to see a significant drop in criminal activity with this grant program.
“We want this program to encourage a cleaner, safer Central Avenue,” said Keith Dahl, community development manager. “The grant funds should help businesses replace signage, fix broken windows, correct brick or wall damage, replace exterior lighting and correct other aesthetic issues. The addition of video surveillance should help cut down on vandalism and other criminal activities that keep people away.”
Any commercial property from 44th to 37th Ave along Central Ave is eligible for this grant.
The grant program could help fund anywhere from six to 15 improvement projects, depending on the extent of the projects, Dahl said.
The program is part of a larger and ongoing mission to revitalize Central Ave and the City’s overall business community.
“We want to encourage a vibrant restaurant and bar community,” Dahl said. “We want Central Ave in Columbia Heights to become a thriving Twin Cities destination.”
Eligible business and property owners may download an application here and mail a completed application to:
Columbia Heights Economic Development Authority
590 40th Avenue NE,
Columbia Heights, MN 55421