As the owner of The Hairitage in downtown Dowagiac, Debbe Meyers has spent her career helping her clients look their best. This construction season, she also made sure her storefront was at its peak of perfection, thanks to a Facade Incentive Program.
This summer Meyers had contractors repair weathered wood, tuck point century-old brick and repaint her building. Now that her work is complete, she is the latest recipient of the Facade Incentive Program of the Dowagiac Downtown Development Authority (DDA). Last week, Tony Poarch, a member of the DDA’s Design Review Committee, presented her with a $2,000 incentive check.
Vicki Phillipson is Program Director of the Downtown Development Authority. She says, “While many of our downtown buildings have been renovated, some are showing significant wear and tear, such as rotting window trim, peeling paint, bricks in need of tuck pointing and, in some cases, awning fabric that has torn in two.” She adds, “These last days of summer offer property owners a window of opportunity to address these maintenance issues.”
While the renovation of building facades is more than just a quick fix up, thanks to the Mayor and City Council in Dowagiac, the DDA continues to offer financial assistance to property owners who renovate their front facades. Monies appropriated by the Council from the City's economic development budget, to fund the $10,000 annual Facade Incentive & Architectural Design Services Program, continue to be used to rejuvenate buildings within Dowagiac’s central business district.
Mayor Don Lyons says, “When Dowagiac began the redevelopment of its downtown 29 years ago, it put in place several key programs to encourage property and business owners to restore their buildings in a consistent and esthetically appropriate manner to the existing architectural structure, while at the same time giving them the flexibility to make sure their businesses were configured in a way that best served their needs.” He adds, "Among those steps was the creation of the DDA’s Design Review Committee, whose job it was to review proposed storefront remodeling plans and, if the proposed plans were satisfactory, to provide the property owner with seed money to help defray some of the renovation costs.”
Today's incentive encourages the continued upgrade of storefronts, as it helps property owners address the wear and tear their buildings have encountered over the last 29 years. Phillipson says the revised program is being administered on a matching funds basis. Property and business owners are eligible to receive an incentive of up to $2,000 for the front renovation of their building. Owners of twin or double storefronts are eligible to receive up to $4,000. Previously, the incentive was only $1,000.
Phillipson said new this year, the Design Review Committee will also consider a secondary side of a building, if it constitutes a major presence in the central business district, such as those buildings with facades on both Front and Commercial streets. Property owners interested in making application to the program can do so by contacting the DDA at 782-8212.