Grant money continues to pour in for downtown renovations.
Two downtown properties split almost $50,000 in façade grants from the U.S. National Park Service while a third property owner is on track to get a $20,000 Business Improvement Grant from the city.
A $25,000 park service grant was awarded to Paul Robinson for work on his renovation project on East Fearing Street.
The second park service grant for $22,000 was awarded to the Seven Sounds Brewing project on Water Street. Robinson is also a partner in that venture.
Only 11 National Park Service grants were given out across the country, including three in North Carolina. Grant awards were between $5,000 and $25,000.
Façade improvements eligible under the grant program include work on awnings, roofs, canopies, storefronts, doors, painting, window repairs, masonry work, landscaping and signage. Grantees must preserve and repair original historic materials when possible.
“Specifically, these are for historic renovation or restoration of downtown facades,” said Elizabeth City Downtown, Inc. Executive Director Deborah Malenfant of the grants.
Earlier this month, City Council unanimously voted to call a public hearing on a $20,000 BIG grant application by Heather Sawyer for renovation work at her property at 102 N. Water Street.
Robinson’s National Park Service grant is for renovation work at 604, 606 and 610 E. Fearing Street. Robinson is spending around $450,000 to renovate the properties and earlier received a $20,000 BIG grant from the city.
Seven Sounds Brewing is currently remodeling the former Hurdle Hardware building on Water Street and what will be the city’s second downtown brewery is expected to open this fall. The brewing equipment for Seven Sounds was delivered in April.
“We are excited about those two projects,” Malenfant said.
Sawyer is investing almost $86,000 to renovate her Water Street property and plans to operate Water Street Realty Group in the building.
Malenfant told City Council that the real estate company will employ one broker, seven real estate professionals and an executive assistant.
The annual payroll for the real estate company is expected to be in excess of $500,000. The city will receive just over $1,000 a year in property taxes with the county getting $1,100 annually. The city will also receive an estimated $14,000 in annual utility revenue from the site.
Some of the improvements needed at the location include repair and replacement of sheetrock, installation of an Americans with Disability Act-compliant bathroom, removal of a wall and installation of a glass wall and door, among other renovations.
“The proposed renovations would bring the space up to current building code, fire code and ADA requirements,” Malenfant said. “At a time when up-to-code commercial and retail storefronts are in demand this would add one retail space to the inventory.”
Almost a decade old, the city’s BIG program is designed to provide money to developers to help bring buildings up to city code and into compliance with the ADA, make repairs to electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems and to make structural repairs.
A majority of the grant money is designated for the city’s Central Business District in the downtown.
The city budgeted $80,000 in the current fiscal year and had a carryover of $112,000 in unspent funds from last fiscal year. The BIG fund was reimbursed $52,000 from the federal government’s COVID-19 CARES Act last year for small business grants the city gave out during the pandemic.
If Sawyer is awarded the grant by the city it will come against the carryover funds since her application was submitted last fiscal year.