Rosemount downtown business owners can apply for facade grants

The downtown skyscape is changing in Rosemount with new housing construction and now building owners can apply for new city façade grants.

The Rosemount Port Authority has discussed how to develop a business loan or grant program, according to Eric Van Oss, economic development coordinator.

The city will launch a one-year pilot program to fulfill a longtime goal of downtown improvement. It will assist building owners who wish to make façade improvements that may include restoring a building or landscaping.

Van Oss said strategic planning efforts have identified that downtown revitalization as one of several important objectives, and the grant program aims to provide a financial incentive that can ideally stimulate private investment and support increased property values.

The city wants to get the word out early, so business owners can be ready with plans and documents to apply when it is formally launched on Oct. 1.

Grants will range from $1,000 to $5,000 per property, Van Oss said, and must be a one-to-one fund match with private dollars. The total annual amount the Port Authority has budgeted for the program is $20,000.

“Improvements can be for building exteriors, window and door replacement or repair, awnings, signs, exterior steps or entrances, landscaping, lighting, and other permanent improvements,” Van Oss said. Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The Port Authority will review the program outcomes before adjusting available funds or grant requirements for future years, Van Oss said.

“This is the easiest way for us to see what the demand is from business and get a template together, and our overarching city goal in downtown is to focus and marry those together for the first iteration for the grant program,” he added.

Grants of $5,000 would be for projects that exceed $10,000.

“We want to encourage further investment in the downtown, and this may not make a project whole, but it may be an extra incentive and offer goodwill from the city to get them (building owners) across the finish line,” said Van Oss.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many small businesses pivoted their services, products or delivery, Van Oss explained.

“They have had to focus on COVID and other aspects and have not had time to consider street appeal, and this is kind of a way for the city to help out, seeing the aspects that had fallen by the wayside the last year or so,” Van Oss said.

The grant-eligible map is online and is in the general vicinity of Highway 3, between 143rd Street and Cameo Lane.

When asked if building owners have voiced a demand for this kind of program, Van Oss said the city has received feedback that they would like a local grant program versus the web of paperwork for a state or county grant.

“We want to try to make it as fair as possible,” Van Oss said, and the Port Authority may need to revisit the amount allocated if there is a strong demand. “We would be fairly likely to continue program and expand it to other areas of town,” he added.

A façade program has been a success in Farmington, Northfield and Minneapolis, Van Oss said, “I think there will be quite a bit of demand because people feel passionate about downtown historic building that reflect the character of the community.

“We are seeing a whole downtown resurgence and we want to be part of that, and we want to cater to new residents who are new and moving in because there are going to be new businesses opening, and it is a holistic approach to our influx of activity.”

To apply or for inquiries, contact Van Oss at ericvanoss@ci.rosemount.mn.us.

 Contact Kara Hildreth at kara.hildreth@apgecm.com.

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