Nonprofit offering façade grants to downtown businesses

GREENFIELD — As Shelley Swift sees it, downtown Greenfield has what so many cities try to replicate: authentic, historic charm.

But the same thing that makes the area attractive — including the 1800s-era construction — can also turn people away if it’s not properly maintained, said Swift, program manager for Greenfield Main Street, an organization focused on downtown revitalization. To spur repairs or renovations to the exterior of downtown buildings, Greenfield Main Street is offering façade grants through Nov. 20 to downtown business owners and homeowners.

The nonprofit will match investments up to $3,000 to cover the cost of a new entryway, windows, awning, sign or anything else on the front side of a home or building, Swift said.

Since the façade grant program started in 2010, more than $65,000 has been issued to downtown business owners and residents.

Building exteriors are what people tend to notice first when they pass through downtown, so it’s important that they make a good impression, Swift said.

“If those façades start to crumble, it doesn’t take long for it to get out of hand,” she said.

Jill Ebbert, executive director of the Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen, received one of the façade grants last winter, which was used to replace 10 large windows on the second story of the building at 202 E. Main St.

Since the soup kitchen opened in 2009, Ebbert had known the windows needed replacing, but the expense was just too much to swallow, she said. After a few years of raising money, the façade grant from Greenfield Main Street provided enough support for the organization to complete the renovation, she said.

The repair allowed the soup kitchen to begin utilizing storage space on the second floor–space that was desperately needed for the organization to continue growing, Ebbert said.

“At that point, it was not so much a desire as a have-to,” she said. “We were just running out of space.”

The repair also assured Ebbert the exterior of the building would be inviting, she said.

“I want everyone, not just the patrons that need our help, to feel welcome to come inside,” she said. “This isn’t a dirty, run-down, throw-’em-a-plate-of-food type of place, and it’s important that our building shows that.”

Joanie Fitzwater, a member of the Greenfield Main Street board of directors, said the small projects that the grants support could also spur other developments down the road.

Other business owners looking to locate to the area could put more weight into their consideration if the downtown area is vibrant and attractive, she said. And things are really beginning to pull together nicely in downtown Greenfield, Fitzwater said.

“It’s really starting to pop,” she said. “The little steps add up.”

Applications for the grants are due by Nov. 20. For application information, contact Greenfield Main Street at 317-586-8166.

How to apply

Applications for downtown facade grants are due by Nov. 20. Greenfield Main Street will match up to $3,000 per grant recipient.

For application information, contact Greenfield Main Street at 317-586-8166.

Author photo
Daniel Morgan is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (317) 477-3228 or dmorgan@greenfieldreporter.com.