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Church seeks $20K biz grant

122217DandarBuilding

The former Dr. Regis Dandar building that Christ Episcopal Church plans to renovate is shown at the corner of Poindexter and Church streets, Friday. The church is seeking a $20,000 Business Improvement Grant from the city of Elizabeth City to help with the improvement costs.

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christ Episcopal Church has asked the city of Elizabeth City for a $20,000 Business Improvement Grant to help improve property it plans to rent to two businesses.

Deborah Malenfant, executive director of Elizabeth City Downtown Inc., said the church, which has inherited property over the decades from its parishioners, is looking to fix up and reopen the building at 217 S. Poindexter St., which is next to Todd’s Pharmacy and neighboring the church.

The church still needs to provide final quotes on what work it plans to do and at what cost, Malenfant said, but it’s planning to divide the space for two separate businesses. The property was last used by Dr. Regis Dandar, a dentist, and it’s been vacant since his retirement four years ago, she added.

Christ Episcopal Pastor Chip Broadfoot said the church constructed the building in the 1920s, and its purpose remains to provide the church with rental income to help the community, including serving those who are homeless, hungry or “in crisis.”

The former dental office needs to be gutted and renovated for more general use, and it needs to be brought up to current fire code and made handicapped-accessible. The structure also needs electrical and plumbing upgrades as well as other work.

Broadfoot declined to identify the prospective tenants for now, citing work to finalize their leases. If everything goes well — the leases are finalized and the space renovated — the businesses might be able to open in April, he said.

Malenfant and City Manager Rich Olson noted last week that Christ Episcopal has received a city business grant before: for the former JoVon Fashions building now occupied by Eclectic Jewelry. The church is not being treated any differently from other applicants, Olson noted.

That means that city staff will next score the proposed project on a 100-point rubric, evaluating it on how it plans to make important, lasting repairs to a downtown property and help create jobs.

City Council will decide whether Christ Episcopal gets the grant. If the grant is approved, Christ Episcopal will have to match it at least dollar-for-dollar. Malenfant reported the project may cost $55,000 to $60,000.

The city accepts Business Improvement Grant applications from both downtown and citywide businesses, and the next deadline for applications is Dec. 31, according to a recent Olson memo to council and the mayor. Following City Council’s approval of Business Improvement Grants for a microbrewery and other projects, there is only about $29,000 left for downtown grants this year, and only about $15,500 left for non-downtown businesses.

A third round of funding will open on Jan. 1 and continue through June 30 for any leftover Business Improvement Grant funding. Those grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, provided projects meet a minimum score, according to the city’s grant guidelines.

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