Sat07262014

Last updateWed, 19 Nov 2014 8pm

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Mitchell optimistic Town of CB will receive grant

Colonial Beach Building and Zoning Director Gary Mitchell is optimistically preparing for the Town of Colonial Beach to be awarded a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), by creating a facade improvement program.

The Town of Colonial Beach has resubmitted its application for a CDBG from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (VDHCD).

The grant, if awarded, would focus on giving the Boardwalk a much-needed facelift, as well as making pedestrian traffic safer and more enjoyable for the public.

As part of the Town’s revitalization efforts, Colonial Beach will offer a Facade Improvement Program (FIP), utilizing some of the funds from the grant. If awarded, $100,00 of the grant will be set aside to help fund these efforts. Interested businesses must be able to equally match funds from the grant in order to improve their business’ exteriors. The business owner may create some of their portion of the matching funds in the form of labor, making the initial monetary investment less.

The 50% matched from the Revitalization Grant may either be paid back over time, or can be forgiven at 20% per year, over five years, providing the improvements are maintained.

Mitchell said that typically 17% of the amount of the loan will be used for front facade, other exposed sides and rear of the building, as well as the rest of the lot, will receive at least 30% of the loan for the improvements.

Mitchell said, “Exceptions to this guideline may be granted by the Design Committee, which will be established once we get the grant. They will be based upon the level of improvements needed on each face of the building.”

Loans for improving facades can be obtained for as little as $500, or as much as $10,000, and are available to businesses in the area marked for revitalization- North to South on Washington Ave. (between Boundary St. and Colonial Ave.), and West to East  from Washington Ave. to the riverfront.

In an effort to help localities recover from economic pitfalls and gradual blight over the last few decades, the VDHCD has offered revitalization grants. Localities compete with each other every year to be awarded money from these funds. Revitalization grants are meant to jumpstart communities to revitalize their businesses, to allow the town to see a return for the money spent. Winning a grant is largely dependent on a locality’s ability to show an active interest in revitalization from its citizens and business owners.

The Town of Colonial Beach is seeking this grant to help fund the revitalization of the Boardwalk area. This area was chosen as the first site for rehabilitation because it is not only the main focus of tourism in the town, but was once the hub of business in Colonial Beach. With economic hardships and past council’s removal of buildings that they had considered to be a blight on the community, the Boardwalk has become a barren area that many residents and visitors find unappealing.

The town cannot continue to rely on the natural beauty of the riverfront beach alone, it must revitalize the business community along the Boardwalk to attract and keep more tourists within the town to create revenue. If awarded, the grant will be used to repave and implement erosion control along the Boardwalk.

Sediment control and curb appeal will be accomplished by using silt fencing and planting trees and plants to provide sod areas and irrigation. Trash receptacles, benches, bike racks and signage will also be added.

At least ten businesses in Colonial Beach have expressed an interest in taking advantage of the proposed Facade Improvement Program.

The Town should know by June whether it will be awarded the grant, and its amount.

Linda Farneth

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