The City of College Park recently announced a total of $25,000 in Retail Business Improvement Fund awards to seven locally-owned and independent businesses for tenant improvements to their buildings. Established this year, the program provides matching grants to existing, qualified businesses for improvements including electrical repairs, façade work, flooring, green initiatives, HVAC upgrades, and several other items. While the City received ten applications, this year’s seven awardees are Azteca Restaurant and Cantina, Bananas Hair Design, Cornerstone Grill & Loft, Fishnet, Hanami Japanese Restaurant, RJ Bentley’s, and Wood’s Flowers and Gifts. The grants ranged from $1,125 to the maximum of $5,000 and the improvements will be completed in the coming weeks and months. The total costs of the improvements are estimated to be $75,844, which results in $50,844 of private funding after the City’s match funding. The program is generating over two dollars of private funding for each dollar of City funding expended.
Established to help the City retain high-quality retail tenants, the Retail Business Improvement Fund was conceived through discussions with local retailers who cited funding for ongoing improvements as a primary need. Eligible applicants were limited to those with local ownership and outlets located only in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area. After the submittal deadline, the City reviewed applications and ranked them on criteria including the amount of private investment, business type, and length of operation in College Park among factors.
The Retail Business Improvement Fund replaced the City’s Business Sign Assistance Fund, which provided matching grants solely for the installation of new storefront signs. A new round of applications is expected to open beginning July 1, 2014.