Old Town’s downtown revitalization effort got another big boost recently, with the announcement that the city has received a $100,000 block grant from the Maine Department of Community Development for facade improvements.

According to Economic Development Director Ron Harriman, the grant requires a $25,000 match by the city. It targets the area of Main Street from its intersection with Center Street to the building that formally housed Jason’s Pizza. Up to ten buildings are being looked at for facelifts, said Harriman.

“This will provide a substantial benefit for property owners,” said Harriman. “The state recognized the need. There was a total of 21 applications for just over $2 million in available block grant funds; the city’s application ranked number two.”

Under terms of the improvement plan, money must would have to be used for exterior improvements. For the first $10,000 in improvements, the property owner would have to provide a match of 10 percent; for any funding above $10,000, a 50 percent match would be required from the property owner, with the maximum grant for any single property being capped at $25,000 – $35,000 if a property has frontage on two streets. Owner labor could be applied toward their match, added Harriman.

Several Main Street properties have been or are in the process of being renovated in recent months, after a long period of dormancy for the downtown. Those properties would not be eligible for retroactive funding.

Harriman said that once property owners formally agree to take part in the program, work can move swiftly.

“Some of the properties should be done before snow flies. The rest would be done in the spring,” said Harriman.


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