Some Businesses Back For Second Round Of Funding

Some of the recipients in Mayor Tom Henry’s facade grant program say they came back for a second round to fix up new properties because of the program’s success.

On Wednesday, Henry announced the nine winners of the 2012 grants. In total, the organizations will receive $218,500 in city income tax money and in return will make $415,446 in private investment in their facilities.

The mayor said the program is one of the best ways the city can spur private investment in targeted areas.

“This is a public-private partnership that works, and works well,” he said.

Shawna Nicelley, owner of G.I. Joe’s Army Surplus on Wells Street, said the $10,000 grant she received in 2009 has led to increased sales in her store each of the last two years. She said customers have commented on the improvement and she’s had to hire more people to keep up with demand.

“We didn’t know how bad we looked until we got the grant,” she said. “I think our store is more inviting. It’s aesthetically pleasing.”

The program was such a success for Nicelley that she bought a former diner at 1627 N. Wells St., across from her store, and received another grant to improve its exterior. She said she hopes to find a good tenant to use the building as some kind of eatery.

Brian Schaper, president of Metro Real Estate, said his $20,000 grant helped make the upper floors of his building on Broadway into useable office lofts. Since the upgrade, he said, five new businesses have moved into it.

His group was awarded two grants this year, one for 2219 Broadway, near Creighton Avenue, and one for Mad Anthony Brewing/The Fairfield Shoppes at 2002-2010 Fairfield Ave., near Taylor Street.

Grant recipients this year include the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne on Fairfield Avenue. It is the first community organization to receive a grant, but city officials said the $38,500 award fit perfectly with the city’s desire to see key corridors improve. The club will use the money to repair a damaged overhang that is making the building susceptible to water damage.

According to the city, 17 groups applied for money this year and nine were awarded. Henry said while city resources are limited, he has no intention of ending the facade grant program.

“Why stop a good thing?” he said.

This is the fourth year of the program. In the previous three years, the city awarded $732,878 in grants, which leveraged $2.25 million in private investment, according to the city. The grant requires at least a dollar-for-dollar match by the applicant.

-Journal Gazette

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Categories: Broadway Corridor, Fairfield Corridor, Goverment, Shopping & Dining, Wells Street Corridor

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