Grant funds possible for Alabaster businesses within radius of new development

Published 10:23 am Monday, January 8, 2024

By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer 

ALABASTER– The city of Alabaster has publicized their new facade grant program which provides an ongoing opportunity for businesses currently residing within a three-mile radius of the future city recreation center, where the current Alabaster City Schools Central Office currently stands on Highway 119.

The newly formed Alabaster Downtown Redevelopment Authority is seeking applications be sent in for its facade grant program.

That program is intended to help cover the costs toward the renovation and beautification of existing businesses within the city. Not only does it seek to rehabilitate and restore commercial properties within the radius of the new development, but the intention is to also encourage new investment and developments in general throughout the city.

Funding for the grant is secured by the general fund, and according to documentation, it is intended for the purposes of “controlling and preventing blight and deterioration within the district.”

If awarded, the grant would reimburse owners or lessees for the cost of eligible improvements made to the exteriors of commercial establishments in amounts up to a maximum of $25,000.

Currently, grants are organized as either a base grant of up to $2,500, which equates to a direct grant with no match required by the grantee, or the reception of that base grant plus a price match. In that secondary option, the grantee would match the price 50/50 with the ADRA with a total investment cap of $25,000 from the ADRA.

No improvement work covered under the grant can be performed until its design is submitted and approved by the ADRA. Assuming approval, the grantee will then be able to commence work within 60 days of the date of the signed agreement and work should be completed within six months and no later than Sept. 1 of the grant year.

Projects will be able to receive design consultation and assistance from the city building official and zoning administration.

As also stipulated in documentation, all contractors performing work related to grants must be licensed by the city of Alabaster.

The following general conditions will also apply to all projects related to the grants:

  • Improvements must be maintained in good order.
  • Graffiti and vandalism will be promptly repaired by the grantee.
  • All property taxes must be current and grantees must not have debts in arrears to the city.
  • Properties involved with grant funding must be insured.
  • All work must remain in strict compliance with approved plans and designs.

Work progress under the grants will also be subject to periodic review by Alabaster’s city building official and the ADRA project coordinator.

Eligible work projects that can potentially be covered by the grant must be on any side of a commercial building facing a public way or space and can include the following:

  • Signage and awnings.
  • Replacement of missing decorative features.
  • Restoration of doors, windows and chimneys.
  • Storefront or façade rehabilitation.
  • Removal of non-historic materials or additions.
  • Exterior paint (if used as an architectural element).
  • Improving ADA access from the outside of the building as part of a larger project.
  • Historic preservation-related maintenance which requires specialized care or expertise.
  • Landscape improvements.
  • Exterior lighting.
  • Parking lot improvements.

Currently, non-public faces of buildings, interior areas, temporary or season improvements and work considered “routine maintenance” are not eligible for grant coverage.

Those interested in applying for the grant or who are in search of more information and documentation are encouraged to visit the city’s website page at Cityofalabaster.com/624/Alabaster-Downtown-Redevelopment.