SHREWSBURY – As spring turns to summer, there will be plenty of activity in downtown Shrewsbury, with businesses and nonprofits working to beautify storefronts.
Christopher McGoldrick, director of planning and economic development, recently announced the façade improvement program, a state-funded grant program, designed to help local businesses restore and continue to recover from setbacks sustained over the past few years.
According to McGoldrick, the purpose of the program is to “provide technical and financial assistance to property owners or business tenants seeking to renovate their commercial building façades and enhance other exterior features within town center. “
“I think the genesis of the program was out of the Local Rapid Recovery Plan, a state program during COVID,” said McGoldrick. “How do we help businesses assess the impacts and try to get them back to where they were [before COVID]. One of the initiatives out of that plan was the façade improvement program.”
The program is the first of its kind for the town center, but it is similar to one that aimed at the White City Plaza several years ago.
According to McGoldrick, the new grant program dovetails nicely with other initiatives aimed at revitalizing downtown, including the Shrewsbury Town Center Study from 2019 and the work of the Shrewsbury Town Center Association.
McGoldrick said the town has $75,000 in grant funds available. Awards are available up to $5,000 for design work and up to $20,000 for actual façade work.
Eligible projects include restoration or adding architectural details; painting and siding; improved windows, doors, awnings and canopies; and permanent landscape features and signage and lighting.
The town will incur the cost of the grants but then get reimbursed by the State Department of Economic Development. McGoldrick said he hopes to involve as many businesses and nonprofits as possible. He said the façade requirements do not demand uniformity but the idea is to maintain the flavor and charm of the town center.
“The purpose of the grant program is to revitalize tired facades or more generic facades to match the existing downtown look,” said McGoldrick. “Some of the facades have seen wear and tear over the years. This is just a way of updating and restoring them, improving the pedestrian realm and the overall aesthetics.”
Moira Miller, president of the Shrewsbury Town Center Association, said the program is an important step in the future of the town center district.
“STCA is hopeful that businesses and property owners will take advantage of this opportunity for assistance to improve and beautify the external appearance of their properties,” said Miller. “Inviting facades are important to establish the town center as an appealing destination for residents and visitors to enjoy. These improvements can also encourage others to invest in the town center.”
The deadline to apply for the grants is April 21 but McGoldrick’s office has already received interest from a handful of businesses.
“This is kind of like a pilot program. If there are too many applicants, grants will need to be awarded on a competitive basis,” said McGoldrick. “And if there is enough interest, we may look to find some additional funding and do another round.”
More information on the grant qualifications and guidelines can be found at https://www.shrewsburyma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/14228/Shrewsbury-Fa%C3%A7ade-Improvement-Program-Guidelines-and-Fillable-Application-
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