Successful downtown facade plan earns boost

A downtown facade improvement program has been successful enough that the City of Warren Redevelopment Authority has invested additional funds in the effort.

City Planner David Hildebrand said during Wednesday’s meeting that an initial allocation of $50,000 brought 10 properties – $5,000 each – into the program.

The funding is awarded as a 50/50 matching grant – each applicant contributes the amount they’re seeking from the RDA – and the target area is the downtown commercial district – bounded on the east by East St., the west by Poplar St., the north at Fourth Ave. and the south at Pennsylvania Ave. including a portion of the base of Market St.

Hildebrand said the “property owners are slowly getting these started. These are coming along.”

He said other entities have expressed interest and requested an additional $15,000 in funding which would bring three more downtown businesses into the program.

“Our hope is to continue,” Hildebrand said. “(I’m) glad that the interest is out there and expanding.”

He said staff would continue to monitor the awards that have already been made and said that the goal is to have the work completed during this construction season.

“A lot of this is not so much heavy construction,” he noted, highlighting that work includes repointing of bricks, painting, signage and awning work.

“I think it’s a great idea that we can include a few more properties,” Authority member Marty McQuillan said. “Anything to improve the downtown look of Warren would be great.”

Authority member David Cantrell said that it would be “great” if the additional owners who have expressed interest come through but noted that other might pop up that could utilize the additional funding.

The RDA approved the additional $15,000 allocation unanimously.