CLEARWATER, Fla. – The city of Clearwater’s Community Redevelopment Agency has adopted three new business assistance grant programs for commercial property owners and tenants starting May 3.
The programs total more than $1.5 million over two years and are at three varying levels that address both short and long-term challenges in the CRA’s 488-acre boundary.
The three grant programs are focused on reducing blight and filling vacant ground-floor commercial spaces with uses that generate pedestrian activity within the entirety of the CRA district. Once approved, applicants will have between six months and one year to implement interior or exterior renovations.
The CRA’s mission is to reduce visual blight and vacancy and to promote Downtown Clearwater’s ongoing neighborhood revitalization through programs and initiatives that strengthen and stimulate the local economy and environment.
“The CRA has spent 18 months in conversation with business owners, property owners, city leadership and staff to build a suite of grants that are responsive to our community need and create viable incentives,” said CRA Director Amanda Thompson.
The three business assistance grant programs are as follows:
- Commercial Beautification Grant Program: Small-scale beautification grants for exterior improvements like signage or painting. This program is intended for exterior renovations and repairs that do not exceed a total project cost of $25,000. The CRA will fund 100% of the cost of eligible improvements up to $5,000, and provide a 50% match toward the total project cost, up to a maximum of $12,500 per application. (Total CRA budget for this program: $250,000).
- Whitebox Grant Program: Renovation grants that make older properties ready for occupancy, like painting, windows, ADA restrooms, fire code improvements, and “pop-up” cultural uses such as galleries. This program is intended for interior and exterior renovations and repairs that do not exceed a total project cost of $100,000. The CRA will fund 100% of the cost of eligible improvements up to $25,000 and provide a 50% match towards the total project cost up to a maximum of $50,000 per application. (Total CRA budget for this program: $300,000).
- Vacancy Reduction Program: Large-scale vacancy reduction grants to renovate vacant spaces for long-term uses that generate foot traffic in downtown.
Grants may be awarded to property owners for exterior and interior improvements to commercial property within the CRA district, and can be funded through two parts. The CRA will provide a 50% match toward the total project cost for building improvements that stay with the building up to a maximum of $500,000 for Part A.
Additional funding up to $500,000 will be available for catalytic uses that serve as a destination in downtown for Part B. (Total CRA budget for this program: $1 million)
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis starting May 1 and are subject to CRA approval and budget availability. Interested parties should note that no projects will be funded retroactively, and applications must be approved prior to beginning work.
Throughout the months of May and June, CRA staff will be available for office hours to answer questions on the three business assistance grant programs.
Interested parties can book a time to meet with CRA staff every Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon to learn more. To make an appointment click here.
For more information and to apply visit www.downtownclearwater.com/doing-business/incentives-grants,