The City of La Grande Main Street Program has received an overwhelming response to the request for proposals it issued last month targeted at downtown building owners interested in partnering with the city and the state on building renovation projects this summer.
Numerous downtown building owners are interested in partnering with the city and the state on building renovation projects this summer. Observer file photo
The city received notice of a $6,667 grant award from the state in April. In addition, the city is providing up to $7,500 in local urban renewal funding for a total available building renovation grant of $14,167. City officials received 12 proposals as of the May 21 deadline.
Twelve project proposals from nine applicants representing 10 buildings in La Grande’s Historic District have been submitted.The total grant request from those 12 projects is for more than $76,000, meaning that the selection of grant awardees will be a very competitive process. The total value of the submitted projects is nearly $122,000.
“There was tremendous interest in this program,” says Charlie Mitchell, the city’s community and economic development director,
Mitchell said he is encouraged with the response. He said it indicates a desire and need for the city to continue and expand this program and potentially help dozens more historic buildings get facelifts.
“I only wish we had $76,000 in grant money right now to fund all of the projects proposed,” he said.
Mitchell said that projects not selected in the current round to receive funding may be eligible to receive funding later in the year from the city.
The state grant forced a tight timeline for current projects; the city is only able to consider those projects that are immediately ready to proceed.
With the interest far exceeding the amount of funding currently available, Mitchell said he sees a strong case to be made to launch the city’s program very soon and keep it funded for the foreseeable future.
Mitchell hopes to have the local program in place as early as July.
“These types of public-private partnerships will have a huge impact on La Grande’s downtown,” he said, adding that he has proposed an annual facade grant budget of $50,000.
The La Grande Urban Renewal Agency will consider adopting the budget on June 17. Mitchell also hopes to secure additional state funding in the future.
Members of the La Grande Main Street Design Committee and the
La Grande Landmarks Commission will begin scoring the 12 project proposals next week.
The two groups will hold a joint meeting on June 8 to select the project or projects that will receive grant funding.
Selected projects must be submitted to the State by June 30, and projects must be completed by Nov. 30.