Downtown Greenville is sprucing up one store at a time thanks to the ongoing Downtown Greenville Facade Improvement program.
Main Street Greenville Director Gretchen Giachelli said the facade grant program is a way to not only improve the appearance of downtown Greenville, but to entice residents to shop more at the local businesses.
This year, Main Street Greenville, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the preservation and economic redevelopment of downtown Greenville, has partnered with the Community Foundation of Washington County, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that offers favorable tax treatment for gifts and a variety of giving methods to help people achieve their charitable goals, to offer even more facade opportunities for downtown businesses.
“This partnership will give more downtown businesses the opportunity to improve their facades,” Giachelli said.
Benjy Nelken, curator of the Greenville History Museum, was the most recent business owner to take advantage of the grant.
Over the past several weeks, the more than 100-year-old building was pressure washed, caulked, had mortar reconstruction and the front and back ends were painted.
Nelken said when the work finished this week, he was impressed at the difference it made.
“I hope this will encourage and set an initiative for other people to fix their facades in downtown Greenville to make it look more attractive,” Nelken said. “I think it’s a tremendous program.”
The Greenville History Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“If nobody has ever been in the museum, it is the most amazing thing to look at,” Giachelli said, noting they have plans to host a museum unveiling to show off the hard work that was put into improving the building.
Main Street Greenville CEO Daniel Boggs said this was the first year in over a decade they have partnered with another organization to offer the facade grants.
“The program used to be funded by the city, now it’s completely supported by net proceeds from the Delta Hot Tamale Festival and the contributions of our Main Street members,” he said. “It’s a tremendous help having the Community Foundation of Washington County partner with us this year.”
About 10 businesses each year apply for the grant, and Giachelli said she hopes partnering with CFWC will allow them to expand the number of businesses they work with.
“We’re excited to hopefully do more this year with our new partner,” she said.
There are currently five approved businesses in the process of obtaining quotes and bids to improve their facades, Giachelli said.
“You’re going to see a lot of improvement to buildings downtown very soon,” she said.
The grant is designed as a dollar-for-dollar match for up to $1,000.
“If you give $1,000, we’ll give $1,000. If you give $500, we’ll give $500,” she said.
The facade work is not limited to a new coat of paint. Business owners can opt to have several improvements done, such as brick cleaning, tuck pointing, stairs, porches and railings, roofs visible from the street, signage repair or replacement, exterior doors, windows and window frames, exterior lighting, wall facade repair and treatment, original architectural feature repairs or replacement, improvements for ADA compliance, streetscape elements, landscaping, shutters and awnings and more.
“It’s one of those things, you’re talking about curb appeal and making downtown more attractive. This is one of the best programs we have in regards to addressing that,” Boggs said. “When you see the before and after of Benjy’s building, it really resonates with how this program is beautifying our downtown.”
For any business applying with the program, Giachelli said they also offer an additional $500 grant for interested business owners to have an architect visit their store and offer options for what their store could look like.
“We have local architect Emily Poole here in Greenville that we have contracted with who will come in, take pictures and then put it in a computer system to where they can give three different options of what the building will look like with different colors,” she said, noting the selected colors will fit the downtown color scheme and not clash with neighboring businesses.
This additional $500 grant is paid for by Main Street Greenville, Giachelli also noted, noting business owners do not have to pay any out-of-pocket money for the service.
Applications for the facade grant can be found on Main Street Greenville’s website at mainstreetgreenville.com.