To facilitate aesthetic improvements downtown during the economic slowdown, the Walled Lake Downtown Development Authority (DDA) continues to dole out facade and sign grants to help business owners enhance their storefronts.
“It has been a very popular and successful program,” said Wendell Allen, chairman of the DDA’s Urban Design Committee. “There have been many new businesses in Walled Lake that have taken advantage of it.”
The program started in 2006 and has picked up steam during the last few years. In the last two months, three businesses have been approved for grant funding while another four have applications pending.
Pepino’s Restaurant on West Walled Lake Drive just completed its modification by installing a new shingled roof at the rear of the building to frame an outdoor seating patio in tandem with other minor improvements.
Other grants were awarded to the Aaron Strand Insurance Company, and Lake Chiropractic.
The Walled Lake DDA mission is to revitalize downtown Walled Lake, a Main Street Oakland County community. Through the facade and sign grant program, businesses can be awarded up to $5,000 in matching funds for facades or up to $500 for signs, contingent on DDA approval.
Projects can range from door or window replacements, or elevation treatments such as stone, brick, or paint. However, landscaping, parking lot, flat roof and interior repairs or alterations are not eligible, in keeping with National Main Street program guidelines.
For the 2011-12 fiscal year, the DDA budgeted $30,000 toward the program.
“We get a few more (applications for) sign grants than facades,” said DDA Executive Director Charlene Long. “The project doesn’t have to be large or costly.”
The DDA lauds the program as a recruiting tool that spurs new business interest.
“We are very busy right now. Though the economy is slow, our businesses are doing a lot with their buildings,” Long said. “We had 17 new businesses open last year.”