Houston businesses continue to benefit from a local program that helps them refresh their look.
Chia’s Dream Closet, who most recently won Business Person of the Year Award, will use the program’s funding to add more display windows as part of a store expansion. The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
The purpose of the annual Business Façade Improvement Program is to improve the character and appearance of retail and commercial buildings through funding from the Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT).
The program matches dollar for dollar, a one-time reimbursement grant of 50 per cent of eligible costs to a maximum of $5,000 per business. These eligible costs can cover direct project labour, design, architectural or engineering fees, contractor fees, rental of tools and equipment, project related materials and supplies.
“The Business Façade Program helps create a more inviting appearance to residents and visitors that will help build civic pride, increase assessed property values and stimulate the local economy,” said Maureen Czirfusz, executive director of the Houston & District Chamber of Commerce.
Eligible improvements include exterior lighting, exterior architectural features, exterior surfaces and details, windows, new siding, façade painting, entrances and doorways, awnings and signage.
According to Czirfusz, Chia’s Dream Closet was the only local business to apply for the program in 2018.
The District of Houston has recently taken steps to ensure the continuity of this program. Council has authorized district staff to re-apply for NDIT’s Business Façade Improvement Program, which provides annual funding of up to $20,000 to each local government to encourage private sector investment in façade improvements.
According to Gerald Pinchbeck, Houston’s Chief Administrative Officer, the program is a cornerstone of the downtown beautification plan, which is expected to provide a vision for developing Houston’s downtown core into a welcoming and appealing commercial area.
The district hopes that improving the general attractiveness of the community will help with Houston’s recruiting and retention efforts.
Earlier this year the district awarded the contract to develop the plan to Urban Systems, which will now develop a core planning document to guide development decisions in Houston. The final plan is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
To apply for the Business Façade Improvement Program, tenants of a building with permission from the property owner can contact the Houston & District Chamber of Commerce at 250-845-7640.
– With files from Ann Marie Hak