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Facade improvement matching grants available for downtown property owners

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Facades

A section of downtown Anniston showcases a variety of streetfront facades.

Main Street Anniston has partnered with the Downtown Development Authority to provide a new “External Facade Grant” that would allow business owners to apply for 50/50 matching funds grants of up to $2500, to be used for sprucing up their exteriors to boost “curb appeal” for potential customers. 

The applicant would cover 50 percent of the cost of renovations with the grant covering the other 50 — up to $2500, according to the grant’s application on the city’s website. A total of $25,000 is available to create these grants.

“Main Street Anniston is a beautiful place, and one of our main goals is to always maintain and improve upon that beauty,” Jackson Hodges, director of Main Street Anniston, said. “Our West 15th St. and downtown historic districts have outstanding architecture and stories behind and within them.”

Hodges said the grant is designed to encourage property owners to improve their businesses and “establish outdoor dining amenities, outdoor artwork, lighting, and more.”

The grant does not have its legs under it just yet to have any takers, according to Director of Planning and Economic Development Toby Bennington. 

Bennington said Main Street Anniston, Anniston city staff, and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) are mobilizing to get the word out in a number of ways such as contacting business owners and posting on social media. 

“About three or four years ago, this was a program that we had in place, when the Main Street program came under the city of Anniston,” Bennington said. “It was a very successful program then. It kind of fell off the vibe for a couple of years, and the Main Street staff and the Main Street board of directors in conjunction with the DDA, we have resurrected this program”

Bennington said he anticipates there will be a lot of interest in the program as it had done well in the past.

“Anything that we can do to incentivize business development, business growth, business improvement, in the downtown area, anything that can help a business owner with his or her property, we want to be able to come up with these types of incentives,” Bennington said. “And we will be looking at more type programs.”

City Manager Steven Folks said a “team effort” was making the grant program possible.

“Team effort is truly the correct direction,” Bennington said. “We’re very proud of the initiative that the staff that’s moved forward with this and our Main Street Board and our DDA.” 

Anniston Mayor Jack Draper said there’s is a great partnership between the city of Anniston, Main Street Anniston, and the DDA, and he appreciates the effort Main Street and the city staff have put forth toward the growth of the downtown area.

“I’m very excited about the energy directed to downtown,” Draper said. Asked if he expected that growth to continue, Draper said, “Absolutely.”

Terms of the grant stipulate the funds must be used to buy materials for upgrades to the outer building structures — such as exterior walls or outdoor dining areas. Internal decor or other upgrades to inside structures are not eligible for the price matched funds. 

According to the website, other terms apply such as a boundary restriction of the Downtown Historic District and/or West 15th Street Historic District and other criteria that determine eligibility.

“I encourage everyone to apply who is eligible, and please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have at 256-846-2044 or via email at jhodges@annistonal.gov,” Hodges said.