HAINES CITY – Since the municipality’s incorporation in 1914, downtown Haines City has been at the center of much of the town’s activity and the Haines City Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) wants to make sure that doesn’t change.
“The downtown region of Haines City is the heart of where the city began,” said Jane Waters, CRA Project Manager. “As (the city) thrives and grows, revitalizing (downtown) back to that same heartbeat location is extremely important for the economic development of our city.”
To help ensure new businesses are attracted and current businesses remain, the CRA has created three programs.
The Façade Grant Program, The Building Grant Program and the Rent Subsidy Grant Program are in place to help offset some of the expenses of conducting business in downtown Haines City.
The Façade Grant Program is available to new and current commercial and business owners. The program has three grant sub-programs included: Renovation Grant, Restoration Grant and Signage Grant.
The Renovation Grant includes façade improvements such as painting, awnings, window and/or door replacement and lighting. These grants may not exceed a total of $5,000 per project and $15,000 per property.
The Restoration Grant includes full restoration of the building, based on actual evidence of its previous appearance. These grants may not exceed $5,000.
The Signage Grant includes design and installation of a sign that will complement the building, add to the historic character of the area and meet all applicable requirements of the city. It may not exceed $500.
There are additional grants available to the same owners after five and/or 10 years.
“The recipients of the grants have to remember to adhere to the city’s design standards,” Waters said. “For example, we have very specific paint colors that must be used.”
The Building Grant Program is much the same as The Building Façade Grant Program, except that the grant is for the exterior and/or interior of the building and the business must be a restaurant, arts and culture facility or affordable housing. The grant is up to a 50 percent match basis, not to exceed $50,000.
The Rent Subsidy Grant Program provides rental assistance for 50 percent of the monthly lease amount for up to six months for businesses that fall into the category of restaurants, arts and culture or affordable housing. New businesses must have at least a two-year lease to be eligible.
“New business owners are finding great interest in this program,” Waters said. “But they have to have signed a two-year lease because we want to make sure we are funding something that plans to stay.”
So far this fiscal year, 14 individual projects on properties located downtown have been funded.
“The first applicant for the new program, initially applied for painting and when he realized how helpful the grant was, he replaced the awnings and then the roof,” Waters said. “So, the CRA had an investment of $15,000 and the owner spent (between) $25-$30,000.
“He continued with the building improvements for several months,” she continued. “This is exactly what we hoped to see with the award of these funds, property owners engaging and reinvesting in their buildings and the Historic Downtown District.”
The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1 and business owners who meet the criteria or new business owners are welcome to apply for a grant by visiting www.hainescity.com.