City of Kalamazoo sprucing up business facades –

Before and after: City of Kalamazoo spruces up facades at multiple properties
KALAMAZOO, MI — The city of Kalamazoo has completed facade upgrades at three business properties, and 15 more projects are in the works now, and property owners are lining up for a chance to get a new look.
The city recently finished three of the projects in the eastside neighborhood, at East Main Food & Beverage, 1614 E. Main St., a property where a childcare service plans to relocate to at 1701 E. Main St., and a property meant for two new commercial spaces at 1617 E. Main St.
The work, funded through the Foundation for Excellence, totaled $75,000, Neighborhood Business and Special Projects Coordinator Melody Daacon told MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette.
The vision is to help break down barriers to entrepreneurship or for first time developers or business owners, she said.
“Vacancies or blight within a neighborhood have a direct correlation to increased crime,” Daacon said, while renovating commercial business properties within a neighborhood has a direct correlation to a decrease in crime.
Organizers hope the visible changes will help spur more positive things nearby.
“People see it,” Daacon said.
The grants funded $25,000 in exterior work at each location. These businesses are also getting $25,000 in interior work from the grant funding to help prepare spaces for business uses, or improve existing business interior spaces, through work such as plumbing, flooring or drywall, she said.
A "before and after" image shows changes including an updated color palette at a business located at 1701 E. Main St., in Kalamazoo.
The work also supports bringing buildings up to current code, she said.
This work has been a collaborative project with the Eastside Neighborhood Association and the city’s office Community Planning and Economic Development. The three facade projects were bid out and completed by Valley Vision Construction & Development, a construction/developer business in the city, she said.
The city now has stimulus funding through the American Rescue Plan Act for the program moving forward. Another $375,000 is allocated for 2022, which includes 15 new facade projects for business properties in the city limits that will be completed in 2023, Daacon said.
Currently there is a waiting list for the program of over 50 properties, she said, and the city is not ready to name the businesses, because contracts are in the process of being signed.
The projects will include two properties in the Central Business District; four in the Edison neighborhood; four in the Northside; one in South Westnedge; one in Southside and one in Stuart.
Businesses can apply for the program here, and officials anticipate accepting more applications in the spring.
The program offers grants for the work at private, for-profit businesses prioritized in the Shared Prosperity neighborhoods of Northside, Eastside and Edison. The businesses must be committed to expansion, rehabilitation, or opening a new location, Daacon said.
Funding eligibilities include improvements to any street-facing wall of the business, including American Disability Act code improvements, like a ramp, lighting, entry door, street facing windows, awning or painting. Funds are paid out via a contractual agreement between the city, business owner and contractor after completing a bid process, she said.
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