Shorewood aims to freshen façades in central business district
Proposed grants target multifamily housing in TIF districts
Shorewood - Multifamily property owners in certain areas of Shorewood may soon have a greater incentive to invest in exterior façade improvements to their buildings.
The Village Board on Monday discussed implementing a Multifamily Façade Improvement Pilot Program beginning in 2013, through which property owners in tax-incremental financing districts 1 and 3 could apply for financial assistance for improvements. The main purpose of the proposed four-year pilot program, according to a memo from Planning and Zoning Administrator Ericka Lang, is to enhance the attractiveness of multifamily units in Shorewood's central business district.
The Community Development Authority in August voted in favor of implementing the program, Village Manager Chris Swartz said, but they have not yet approved the funding for it.
Up to $10,000 in grants
The program is similar to the façade improvement program already in place for retail and mixed-use properties in the Business Improvement District, Swartz said, except it would be funded at a lower level. While businesses can apply for grants to cover up to 50 percent of improvement costs, multifamily property owners could apply for matching grants of up to 25 percent of project costs, with the maximum award capped at $10,000.
Staff is recommending designating a total of $99,000 over the course of four years, from 2013 through 2016, to support the program. Based on that level of funding, staff estimates that a total of 15 grants could be awarded during that time, or about three to four per year, with the average grant award amounting to about $6,600.
In order to receive funding, property owners would be required to obtain two bids, pre-approval and a signed agreement, approval by the Design Review Board, in most cases, and final approval from the CDA, as stated in Lang's memo. Only street front façade improvements, excluding maintenance activities, would be eligible for funding, and grant awards would be applied by parcel and not individual buildings.
In addition to enhancing the aesthetic appearance of the area, other program goals include promoting high-quality multifamily buildings and surrounding landscaping, promoting residency retention and increasing occupancy throughout the village, and maintaining or improving property values in the target area and adjacent areas, the proposal states.
"Since we did Capitol Drive and Oakland Avenue, we believe there can be some façade improvements to other buildings," Swartz said.
Aesthics need updating
A total of 58 multifamily structures, built between 1921 and 1974 and with an average age of 78 years, would be eligible to request program funding, according to the proposal. The majority of those buildings fall within TIF District 1, Swartz said. In particular, some of the structures built from the 1950s through 1970s are in greater need of aesthetic improvements, he noted.
Trustee Jeff Hanewall wondered how much value the program would actually add to residential properties in the target area, to which Swartz said it likely would be project-dependent, with improvements to some buildings being more significant than others.
Although Village President Guy Johnson questioned the appropriateness of the village financially assisting landlords with improvements, Trustee Thad Nation said it is not uncommon for municipalities to provide such assistance to residential properties.
"Here you get a three-to-one investment from the owners, versus what you get from the village. That's pretty stingy, as far as most façade grants go," Nation said. "But if we can get them to think about it and take that extra step, then why not? It's more than what we're getting now."
The Village Board did not take any action on Monday, requesting that the CDA come back to them with a funding recommendation for the program.
AT A GLANCE
Examples of the types of projects that would be eligible for funding under the proposed Multifamily Façade Improvement Pilot Program include:
repair/replacement of original materials and decorative details that are deteriorated, missing or inconsistent with the character of the community
repair of non-original materials that cannot be removed due to deterioration of underlying original materials
masonry repair, painting, permanent exterior lighting, and landscaping improvements, including fencing
repair or addition of entryways
removal, repair and/or replacement of awnings and addition of new awnings or building signage
Alternately, projects that would not be eligible for funding include:
work on a façade not visible from a public street
work done before approval of an application agreement
work on a roof
window or door replacement
purchase of property or construction of a new building
cleaning exterior of building only
fixtures, equipment or inventory
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