Which is a better motivator, the carrot? or the stick?
For the Rochester Downtown Alliance, they have found success with a carrot, and in this case, a green carrot. Their Facade Improvement Grant program has successfully administered over $200,000 in grant dollars to help downtown businesses and property owners improve their facades. The end result is hopefully a downtown that is more attractive, more pedestrian-friendly, and one that invites investment. The grant dollars have been leveraged private investment by several times and we as a community are the beneficiaries.
The grant is run through the RDA and relies on a set of Urban Design Guidelines to help objectively guide "improvement." While not every facade improvement is deemed as successful as it could be, this is still a win-win and a program that should be heralded for its devotion to design integrity and its ability to spur private investment.
For Nail Bar, the business owner submitted an application to the RDA along with an illustration of the components of the design and a budget estimate. Now this business owner will receive up to 50% of the construction and design costs in the form of a grant; money in their pocket. The only limit is a cap at $20,000 of grant money, but in this case Nail Bar will be benefiting from a facade that has:
- Increased transparency with an all glass entry instead of small display windows
- An entry that is now more handicap accessible and energy efficient
- A fabric awning prominently displaying their business signage
- Increased lighting of the entryway and awning without the use of internally-lit signage