Janey Mae Cooley Façade Grant

This program makes 50% matching funds (up to $10,000) available for eligible improvements to business façades that are easily visible, such as those that face a public street or a parking area. Improvements must preserve the individual character of each building with its unique features, historic appearance, and significance.

1. Purpose and Overview

The Athens Downtown Development Authority (ADDA) Janey Mae Cooley Memorial Façade Grant Program is intended to stimulate investment in the revitalization and preservation of building exteriors in Athens’ historic downtown area, the heart of the Athens Historic District and a source of pride for our community.

Matching funds are made available for eligible improvements to business facades that are easily visible and in public rights-of-way, such as those that face a public street or a parking area. Improvements must preserve the individual character of each building with its unique features, historic appearance and significance, as well as make a contribution and impact to the appeal of the downtown area.

**Note that all such improvements must meet the Historic Preservation Commission’s design standards if located within the Historic District.

The Façade Grant Program is funded by the ADDA and administered by the Façade Grant Committee (FGC). The FGC will determine the amount of matching funds based on the proposed façade change, grant funds available, and the number of requests under consideration.

2. Facade Grand Eligibility Criteria

Eligible projects must be located in Athens Downtown Development Authority boundary. For information regarding district boundaries, contact Rachel Swartz at 706-353-1421, or Rachel@downtownathensga.com.

Eligible participants include commercial and mixed-use property owners and business owners. If the property is leased, the property owner must consent to the proposed project. This consent may be provided in the form of an owner consent letter, or the property owner may co-sign the grant application.

Priority will be given to buildings that are historic, architecturally significant and/or visually prominent, and to buildings with inappropriately applied facades that are unsightly or in need of repair.

To qualify for a façade grant, projects must result in improvements that:

a. Are appropriate for the building and consistent with its current business use;
b. Preserve the architectural integrity and restore, if possible, the original building façade: and
c. Positively contribute to the appearance and vitality of Downtown Athens.

Eligible projects must:

a. Be in harmony with preservation guidelines outlined in the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation found in its entirety at http://www.nps.gov/tps/standards/rehabilitation/rehab/stand.htm
b. Be in accordance with all government rules, regulations, and laws, including but not limited to the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government’s ordinances and building codes, and if applicable, the Historic Preservation Commission’s Architectural Design Standards.

3. Guidelines for Façade Improvements

Because Athens is a Georgia Main Street Community, we have access to wonderful and inexpensive local design services that can be included in your façade grant proposal. Please contact Rachel Swartz at 706-353-1421, or Rachel@downtownathensga.com, for more information on design services.

Potentially eligible work is limited to exterior improvements only – business facades that are easily visible to the public, such as those that face a public street or parking area.

From minor improvements to full-scale restoration, a wide range of investment proposals will be considered, including:

  • Design plans
  • Exterior walls/materials
  • Exterior painting
  • Exterior door & window repair/replacement and treatments
  • Gutters and downspouts
  • Decorative exterior architectural features
  • Replacement/uncovering of architectural features
  • Replacement of non-historical storefronts/buildings (demolition)
  • Restoration of original and/or historic facade
  • Structural stabilization
  • Masonry cleaning (by gentlest means possible)

INELIGIBLE WORK includes but is not limited to:

  • Signs
  • Canopies and awnings
  • Roofs
  • “Yard” improvements (vegetation and/or pavement)
  • Interior improvements of any kind
  • Personal property/equipment
  • General maintenance (except painting)
  • Interior window/door treatments
  • Security systems

Inappropriate chemical cleaners and sand blasting are strictly forbidden for surface cleaning of structures, due to possible damage of aged building components.

Participants assume full responsibility for all aspects of the project, any relationships with contractors and suppliers, and securing all necessary municipal approvals.

Applicants agree to maintain the approved improvements in good condition for a period of at least three (3) years, making repairs as necessary, or risk repayment of grant funds to the ADDA. This is at the ADDA’s discretion, and will not be enforceable if the property changes owners.

4. Application Guidelines

The online application form is to be submitted via this website. Applicants interested in the program should also consult with the Athens Clarke County Planning Department to obtain appropriate permits and, if necessary, the Certificate of Appropriateness. For assistance and more information, please contact Rachel Swartz at 706-353-1421 or Rachel@downtownathensga.com.

Applications will be reviewed by the FGC within four weeks of receipt and in the order received. Only complete applications will be reviewed. A complete application includes the online form (below) and all supporting materials as specified in the instructions. notification of incomplete application packets will be within two weeks if all materials are not submitted.

5. Application Review

The Façade Grant Committee (FGC), which is a subcommittee authorized by the ADDA, shall:

a. Review each application packet for completeness;
b. Make a determination regarding eligibility;
c. Classify the project as either a minor or major improvement to set the timeline for completion; and
d. Provide a grant recommendation to the ADDA or deny the project.

Each application packet will be judged on the following standards for review:

a. Priority will be given to buildings that are historic, architecturally significant and/or visually prominent, and to buildings with inappropriately applied facades that are unsightly and in need of repair;
b. Extent to which the project advances the goals of improving building appearance;
c. Extent to which the project is compatible with the Historic Preservation Committee’s design standards and/or the characteristics of the downtown area;
d. Extent of the project’s impact upon the Downtown Athens streetscape and pedestrian atmosphere;
e. Historical/architectural significance of the building;
f. Original condition of the building and the need for the changes of the proposed project;
g. Extent to which the original building is preserved;
h. Removal of historically inappropriate alterations;
i. Prominence of the building;
j. Quality of the work proposed;
k. Level of match participation of the applicant;
l. Range of projects completed and proposed as part of the Downtown Façade Grant program;
m. Any other relevant factors deemed by the FGC to be applicable.

The public is welcome to attend the meetings of the FGC which will be held in the ADDA office as needed. The applicant is not required to attend the meeting in which his or her application is considered. The majority of the committee present will recommend approval of, deny, or table each complete application. Recommendations for façade grants will then be given to the ADDA for approval at their next Board Meeting.

Not later than two weeks after the ADDA meeting date, the applicant will receive a confirmation letter indicating the grant award decision, or in some cases, a request for additional information. In the instance of a decision to deny or table an application, the letter will indicate the Board’s reason for doing so. The ADDA reserves the right to table, deny, or request modifications in any or all application packets, in whole or in part, and to negotiate changes in the proposed project. In the case of denial by the ADDA, the applicant can address the issues identified by the committee and re-apply for a grant.

6. Grant Awards

Approved projects will be reimbursed at up to fifty percent (50%) of the approved project’s total cost. The award will not exceed the Façade Grant Program maximum grant of ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

Please note: If work is started on the applicant’s project before the decision to make a grant award, only the remaining work will be eligible for a matching grant.

The FGC reserves the right to recommend funds as it deems best to achieve its purposes and at its sole discretion. For example, the FGC can grant funds in amounts as it deems appropriate to encourage the projects it deems most beneficial. Many factors are considered, such as the FGC budget, number of applicants, financial considerations, applicant match, mixture of proposed projects, and the extent to which projects fulfill the goals and standards for eligible projects as set forth above.

7. Project Completion

The Façade Grant Committee shall classify each proposed project as either a minor or major improvement based of the project type and scope. Minor improvements include projects such as painting, re-pointing brick, and replacing non-conforming doors and windows. Major improvements would include projects costing above $20,000 such as a complete restoration of a building façade. Minor improvements must be started within thirty (30) days of receipt of the confirmation letter and completed within ninety (90) days of said receipt, or re-application will be required. Major improvements must be started within ninety (90) days of receiving the confirmation letter and completed within twelve (12) months of said receipt, or re-application will be required. To qualify for reimbursement, all work must be complete and in conformance with the approved plans.

8. Reimbursement

After project completion, the applicant is reimbursed with awarded grant funds upon:

a. Satisfactory completion of the project with conformance to approved plans;
b. Receipt of a reimbursement request plus all receipts and proof of payment;
c. Compliance with all applicable municipal rules, laws, ordinances, and regulations;
d. Reaffirmation of applicant’s commitment to maintaining project improvements for a period of at least 3 years.

All reimbursement requests are to be submitted to ADDA, c/o Rachel Swartz, 250 W. Broad Street Suite 108, Athens, GA 30601. The FGC reserves the right to increase or decrease a grant award in accordance with receipt of actual expenditures.

Interested in the Janey Mae Cooley Façade Grant?

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