As most of you know, I truly believe neighborhoods are the heart of our community. As a city councilman and as Mayor, I've been committed to strengthening our neighborhoods and helping to make our commercial corridors thriving areas of business and activity.
That's why, five years ago, I started the Commercial Façade Grant program. Businesses looking to improve their curb appeal may be able to get a boost from this very popular program – which provides local businesses the opportunity to apply for matching grants to improve the exterior of their buildings.
When businesses improve their buildings, it sends a strong message that the surrounding neighborhood is vibrant and a good place for other businesses to invest.
We invite local businesses to apply for this wonderful program. Applications will be accepted from November 12 through December 14, 2012; they are available online at www.cityoffortwayne.org/commercial-programs.html or by calling 3-1-1.
Since we launched the program in 2008, 55 façade improvement projects have been completed or are in the process of being completed. These project have generated private investment of at least $2,666,975.
At the beginning of 2012, our grant recipients included Bushey's and the Boys & Girls Club on Fairfield Avenue; the Vintage Building and Low Bob's Discount Tobacco on Broadway and the 1950s Diner on Wells Street. The program makes funds available to businesses along many of our city's more highly travelled roads or corridors, such as Wells, State Boulevard, Calhoun Street, Broadway and Taylor Street – all are areas that have been designated as Economic Development Target Areas (EDTAs) by Fort Wayne City Council.
Façade grants can be used to help offset the costs of exterior renovations, signage, lighting, awnings, parking improvements, decorative fencing, and other enhancements owners want to make to their property's façade.
By design, this program requires applicants to provide matching funds in order to receive the grant. Single businesses are eligible for up to a $20,000 matching grant; multi-business or multi-tenant buildings are eligible for up to $40,000. Program financing comes from Community Economic Development Income Tax (CEDIT) funds.
On another subject, City of Fort Wayne curbside leaf pick-up continues throughout November and into early December. Collection teams are scheduled to make a second pass through the Waynedale area, and other neighborhoods on the South Side, during the week of November 26 - 30. Please have your leaves ready for pick-up. For more information, go to the city website, www.cityoffortwayne.org/leaves, or call the leaf hotline at 427-2302.
The holiday season is almost here. We hope you will help us usher in the holidays with two annual events – both on Wednesday, November 21st. Bring the whole family downtown for the "Night of Lights" at the Community Center and The Botanical Conservatory's annual "Holiday Kickoff Party!"
The "Night of Lights" offers free fun activities from 4 to 7:30 p.m. at the Community Center, 233 W. Main St. Parents can pick up hand-crafted holiday items. Kids can shop for inexpensive holiday gifts for $1 or less at the North Pole Stop-n-Shop. The entire family can enjoy crafts, refreshments and movies!
And, just a few blocks away, the Botanical Conservatory's annual Holiday Kick-Off will provide another venue for family fun, from 5 to 9 p.m., at 1100 S. Calhoun St. Come on down, have some hot chocolate, meet Mrs. Claus and get a free photo with Santa!