"We're very excited about this, and we think it's a good way to support and encourage private investment downtown," said DDA executive director Margaret Woodard today.
The DDA has allocated $35,000 of SPLOST V funds for this project, not to exceed $7,000 per application. Woodard said applicants' projects must already be completed and paid invoices must be provided as proof of completion.
Eligible projects should demonstrate capital façade improvements and development or redevelopment of buildings, a reasonable budget and timeframe for completion. Although this is the first year this program has been offered by the DDA, Woodard said they have been working with downtown property owners in this fashion for a very long time.
"We were already doing this, so why not let people know it's available," she said.
One example, The Chat Noir, spent nearly $200,000 in renovations and improvements last year and asked the DDA for new sidewalks outside the theater. Woodard said this program is designed to show support for private investors who make an effort to improve downtown on their own.
"When the private sector buys into the game, it usually means it's a good idea," she said. "Everybody's got skin in the game."
Private investment also increases the level of commitment to maintaining a clean and attractive downtown, she added.
"When people have a sense of ownership, there's a sense of pride and better upkeep," she said.