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Downtown Columbia has a fresh, new look thanks to a Façade Improvement Grant that was awarded to the City of Columbia in April 2020 from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) for $100,000. This grant was available to communities with Tennessee Main Street and Tennessee Downtowns’ programs. Approximately five grants of up to $100,000 were awarded to organizations that illustrated the need for a façade program and the ability to execute an effective design plan for façade improvements. Grant funds were distributed to local downtown businesses by the City of Columbia after soliciting applications from property owners and merchants.
Assistant City Manager Thad Jablonski stated, “We are excited to work with our downtown merchants and property owners to distribute grant funds that have a positive impact on Downtown Columbia. The first round of the Façade Improvement Program has included high-impact, high-quality projects that have resulted in an increased return on investment using state grant dollars.”
The South Central Tennessee Development District has collaborated with the City in administering the Façade Improvement Program. Façade Grant awards ranged from $1,500 to $10,000 for each sub-recipient business and were designed to encourage property and business owners in the downtown commercial district to enhance the exterior façade, brand and identify their business, drive economic success, and restore the original and historic character.
In eleven months, fifteen projects have been completed within the Façade Grant Improvement Program. Grant funds spent to date total $87,457. Of the amount spent, 75% of improvements were funded using state grant dollars, and the remaining 25% match was provided by business or property owners. Award recipients with completed projects include Muletown Roasted Coffee, GM Properties, Flag World, a'Museum Children’s Museum, Ganser Building, Ted's Sporting Goods, Cowork Columbia, Robeson buildings on 811 and 813 S. Main St., Sands & Richardson, Red 7 Pizza Co., Puckett's, Southern Tre Steakhouse, former Salon South building, former Emporium building, and the downtown Boys & Girls Club.
Jablonski went on to say, “I am grateful to our partners at the state and the South Central Tennessee Development District who continue to work with us as we seek to move the City of Columbia forward in a positive direction. Over the next two months, the second phase of the program will be underway as we direct the remainder of state grant funds to enhance our downtown district.”
In addition to the current round of funding, the City is planning to apply for a new round of grant funds for the Downtown Improvement Grant Program through TNECD totaling $150,000. The city will be informed if the new round of façade grant funding is awarded by September 2021.
Further information regarding Façade Improvement Grant Programs can be found at www.columbiatn.com.