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FACADE IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM
Community Development Department
Facade Improvement Description [PDF]
Facade Improvement Application [PDF]
03-01-05 - Facade Improvement Program Launched
Purpose of the Program

The City of Knoxville Community Development Office is providing an incentive program to improve the façades of certain types of buildings within targeted redevelopment areas. By bettering the appearance of building façades, the program serves to improve the economic viability of these areas. Better aesthetics increase property values, improve the marketability of space within the buildings and draw business and residents to the area.

Target Areas

The current façade improvement target areas are the Broadway-Central Area, the Five Points Redevelopment Area, the Mechanicsville Redevelopment Area, the Burlington Business District and the Jackson Avenue Redevelopment Area.

Application Process

Applications for the façade improvement program will be available from the 0 Community Development Office, as funding allows. Applicants will be required to complete the program application and provide a project timeline and architectural drawings and specifications of the proposed façade improvement work. Proposals must pass a threshold review for eligibility, and will then be reviewed for quality and impact of the proposed improvements. Approval of applications will be considered based on strength of proposals and readiness to begin work.

Eligibility

All property owners willing to improve the exterior of properties located within the designated program areas may be eligible to receive assistance. A recipient may utilize the Façade Improvement Program in conjunction with other public financial resources. Owners may receive assistance for more than one building based on funding availability.

Eligible buildings are commercial buildings with façades visible from the street. New construction will not be considered for this program. For the purposes of this program, blighted means designated for acquisition or otherwise identified as blighted under a redevelopment plan or as part of the redevelopment planning process.

Applicants will be required to demonstrate financial capacity to meet the program match-funding requirements, and must be current on all property taxes, mortgages and insurance.

Buildings will not be required to be occupied to be eligible for this program.

Eligible Activities

Façade renovation activities must involve the general upgrading of a building's external appearance in compliance with the Design Guidelines and Design Review process.

Examples of eligible activities:

  • Permanent exterior improvements, including:
  • Masonry repairs and tuckpointing;
  • Repair/replace/preserve historically significant architectural details;
  • Storefront reconstruction;
  • Cornice repair;
  • Exterior painting and stucco;
  • Awnings and canopies;
  • Window and door repair or replacement;
  • Permanent exterior signage integrated into the storefront design;
  • Permanent exterior lighting;
  • Repair/replacement of gutters and down spouts;
  • Façade building code items;
  • Visible roof repairs in conjunction with structural improvements;
  • Utility/trash enclosures;
  • Decking and stairs;
  • Side and rear building façades where improvements will serve to cause the removal of a blight designation;

    Examples of activities that are generally not eligible:

  • Landscaping;
  • Non-visible roofing;
  • Attached, hanging or projecting signs unrelated to the architecture of the building;
  • Mechanical equipment enclosures (non-visible);
  • Parking lots;
  • Billboards;
  • Interior renovation;
  • Temporary, portable or non-permanent improvements;
  • New construction;
  • Property acquisition;
  • Expansion of building area;
  • Conversion of use;
  • Working capital;
  • Refinance of existing debt;
  • Payment of delinquent taxes;
  • Improvements in progress or completed prior to loan/grant approval.

    Funding available

    The available funding is based on the square footage of the eligible façade. Buildings within the program areas can receive $20 per square foot, with a maximum of $50,000 per building, based on total project cost. Applicants must provide a match equal to or greater than twenty percent of the amount awarded through this program. The match must be spent on the façade improvement project.

    The program funding will be provided in form of a loan which is forgiven over a five year period, providing the property continues to be maintained in accordance with the program requirements, such as retention of ownership, maintenance of the façade, and payment of all property taxes due.

    Design Guidelines

    Eligible proposals will be required to follow design guidelines provided for this program. These guidelines are provided to assure appropriateness of the proposed work, and to provide for compatibility with the affected building's original appearance and with other area buildings. For buildings not within an H-l overlay and not otherwise designated as historic, the design guidelines are provided to essentially 'do no harm to the possibility of a future historic designation.

    In the case of buildings within an H-1 overlay or otherwise designated as historic, the façade improvements must meet all applicable historic preservation requirements in addition to the program's façade improvement design guidelines and program requirements.

    Design Review Committee

    Applications will be considered by a Design Review Committee in order to assure, through an equitable process, that the application meets all applicable design-guidelines.

    Architectural Drawings and Specifications

    Applicants will be required to include architectural drawings and specifications of the proposed façade improvements as part of their application.

    Architectural assistance for design of improvements - architectural costs (up to $1,000) associated with façade improvements to a building may be used as part of the applicant's required match funding, providing the property owner utilizes the architectural plans in the building renovation.

    Financing Policies

    1. Reimbursements - all assistance is on a reimbursement basis following completion of the project. The total reimbursement for all forms of façade improvement assistance shall not exceed $50,000 per project. Projects must be completed within three months of the start of construction, unless the City approves a longer timeline, at the City's sole discretion.
    2. Security - the façade improvement project reimbursement will be secured by a. deed of trust on the real estate for the requisite term which will self-amortize proportionally each year; providing the property continues to be maintained in accordance with the program requirements, such as retention of ownership, maintenance of the façade, and payment of all property taxes due.
    3. Repayments - No repayments will be required if all terms are met.
    4. Default - A recipient shall be considered in default and the balance of financial assistance immediately due and payable upon failure of the borrower: to retain ownership of the property for the duration of the forgivable loan, failure to properly maintain the façade after improvements are completed, delinquency ill property taxes; or failure to operate in compliance with all applicable local, state, and federal codes, laws, and regulations.
    5. Remedies of Default - In the event of default, the City may exercise any combination of the remedies available to it with respect to the security agreement(s). The City may take whatever action at law, or in equity, as may appear necessary or desirable to collect any outstanding balance or to enforce the performance and observation of any other obligation or agreement of the recipient.
    6. Ineligible Activities - Applications which will not be considered for financial assistance are those which:

  • Involve interior rehabilitation including modernization of electrical, mechanical, or structural elements. However, façade improvement funds may be used for façade improvements in conjunction with a separately financed rehabilitation project.
  • Do not follow the approved architectural plans and designs for the façade renovation.
  • Cannot demonstrate the ability to bear the entire cost of relocation arid related expenses of residential or nonresidential tenants displaced as a result of project activities.
  • Activities specifically prohibited by the program's funding source.

    General Requirements

    1. All work must be done in accordance with the Design Guidelines, all applicable local, state and federal codes, and rules and regulations for the Community Development Block Grant program. Any renovation work undertaken prior to the City's final written authorization to begin construction is not eligible for assistance under the program. All renovation work undertaken in conjunction with the façade improvement program which exceeds approved financial assistance shall be borne by the applicant.
    2. All construction management shall be the responsibility' of the applicant. All work undertaken is subject to the Davis Bacon Act.
    3. Properties with residential components will be required to meet applicable lead-based paint abatement requirements.
    4. Each recipient will be responsible for all acquisition and relocation costs when displacement of residential or nonresidential tenants occurs as a result of the project, in accordance with the Uniform Relocation Act. If temporary tenant relocation will be required for this project, contact the City for further guidance prior to submitting this application.
    5. All applicants shall be required to demonstrate compliance with nondiscriminatory employment practices and Affirmative Action Programs under Title VI and Section 112 of the Civil Rights Act of 1969 and Public Law 92-65. Applicants are encouraged, to utilize minority and women-owned business enterprises under this program.
    6. The City, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Comptroller General of the United States, 'or any duly authorized representatives, shall have access to any books, documents, papers and records which are directly related to the program assistance for the purposes of monitoring, making audits, examination, excerpts, and transcripts. All records supporting the costs and components of program assisted improvements shall be maintained for a period not less than three (3) years following completion of the program agreement period, agreement termination, or default, whichever shall first occur. No person who is an employee, agent, consultant, officer, appointed official, or elected official of the City of Knoxville who exercise or have exercised any functions or responsibilities with respect to CDBG activities, or are in a position to participate in a decision-making process, or gain inside information with regard to such activities, may obtain a personal or financial interest or benefit, or have interest in any program assistance, either for themselves or those with whom they have family or business ties, during their tenure or for one year thereafter.

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