Washington business district awards facade grants

Katie Anderson

Businesses in Washington’s downtown area will be getting a face-lift, thanks to Local Share Account money.

It’s the second year the Washington Business District Authority applied for an LSA grant to distribute to businesses through the Façade Improvement Program. This year, the authority was awarded more than triple what it received last year.

The first year the authority applied, it received $30,000 with an additional $15,000 that it matched, according to Sarah Collier, a representative for the business district. This time, it asked for more and was awarded $100,000 in LSA money with a $25,000 match, she said.

“My assumption is that they thought it was a good use of money with many worthwhile projects,” Collier said. “It’s a great way for people to demonstrate their appreciation for the downtown.”

The business district authority applied for the money last September and it was awarded a couple months later. Local business then began the “façade cycle” in January, during which they apply to secure portions of the LSA grant, which range anywhere between $3,200 and $10,000.

“It would be hard for 17 individual people or businesses to make requests of the LSA,” Collier said.

The businesses must be within the 14-block radius of the district, from Walnut Street to the train tracks on Main Street, and from the centerline of Franklin Street to the centerline of College Street. The money must be used to make improvements to buildings and storefronts by the end of November, she said.

This year, most of the properties are concentrated in the area of North Main Street and Chestnut Street and are a mix of retail, service and residential properties:

  • 191/199 N. Main – Turning Point
  • 148 N. Main – L.A. Sweets
  • 116 N. Main – Various attorneys
  • 100 N. Main – Life Church
  • 56 N. Main – World West Gallery
  • 16 N. Main – Colonials on Main
  • 250 S. Main – Main Street Brewhouse
  • 25 W. Chestnut – Mixed use
  • 130 N. Franklin – The Dreamers Co
  • 23 E. Beau – Sweat Law Office
  • 68 W. Maiden – Liberty Pole Spirits
  • 90 E. Maiden – Barberella
  • 49 E. Maiden – LeMoyne House

“It’s wonderful to stand on a street corner downtown and see lovely, vibrant, cared-for buildings that showcase Washington’s charm,” Collier said in a news release. “The WBDA is so pleased to be able to support the continued revitalization of our city, and we are excited for this next evolution of our streetscape.”

The Dreamers Co. was awarded $7,500 to continue renovating the former Immaculate Conception Church convent at 130 N. Franklin St. The nonprofit is turning it into a headquarters facility and a community center.

This money will go toward metal siding and windows on the rear side of the building, which faces Main Street, according to Aaron Miller, director of the nonprofit.

“This grant has been extremely helpful to beautify our Main Street,” he said.

Washington Mayor Scott Putnam said that the Business District Authority was “reinvigorated” a few years ago with new members and ideas, one of which was to create the Façade Improvement Program.

“Businesses were excited, and we saw a need,” he said. “We were allowed to award bigger projects this year. I think it’s great for our downtown, and you can really see a difference.”