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Main Street proposes facade grant program

Downtown building owners would have to match funds, up to $5,000

DIXON – Downtown business owners soon may have more incentive to spruce up their exteriors: Dixon Main Street is proposing utilizing money from the central business district tax-increment financing fund to provide facade grants.

The program, if OK’d by the City Council, would start with $20,000 to $50,000 in the pot. Businesses would apply for up to $5,000 in funds they must match.

There is about $400,000 in the TIF fund, according to Shawn Ortgiesen, city engineer and director of public works. Of that, $275,000 is designated to the city’s loan fund, meaning $125,000 is available.

The downtown has been designated a National Historic District, and the program would encourage businesses to keep their buildings in good shape.

“The beauty of our downtown is the reason we were designated with that distinction,” said Dixon Main Street Executive Director Josh Albrecht, who made a presentation Monday to the City Council. “This encourages downtown property owners to reinvest, when some of them might have felt previously they didn’t have the money to do that tuck-pointing or painting job.”

Dixon Main Street members came up with the idea after a visit to Aledo, a town of 3,640 in Mercer County, that has a matching grant program for awnings, Albrecht said.

More than 20 businesses have used the program in the last 5 years, Aledo Main Street Executive Director Pam Myers said.

In Dixon, “we wanted our program to be more broad,” Albrecht said.

Grant money here would be available for windows, doors, signage, awnings, exterior lighting, painting, pedestrian accessibility, tuck-pointing or decorative features. No interior work would be eligible.

Grant applications would start with the design committee at Dixon Main Street, but the City Council would have the final say on each project.

Once the fund is exhausted, it would be up to the City Council to decide whether to replenish it.

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