AFTER: These two façade projects carried out by Yarmouth businessman Richard LeBlanc have attracted a lot of interest.
YARMOUTH, N.S. – The town of Yarmouth says the façade program is achieving the hoped-for goals.
And due to its popularity the town will have to revisit its budget next year to come up with more funding for the program, as just a little over $5,000 in town funding remains in the current budget allotment.
Up to $5,000 is the amount of money the town matches when business and property owners apply for the program. But the return on these town dollars has been much greater.
The façade program was introduced a few years ago. Of 61 applications approved – which includes 38 completed facades and 23 projects to be completed in 2017 – the town has paid out grants totalling $250,227.08.
However, as of Aug. 21 of this year, the total value of the improvements that business and property owners have carried out was $650,447.62.
And Natalie Smith, the town’s economic development officer, says the value of the improvements is probably 20 per cent higher than this figure as businesses have undertaken other interior work as well.
Businesses that have participated in the facade program.
While some people may view the façade program as nothing more than a new coat of paint, Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood says the program is much more than this.
“I’ve repeated this over and over, it’s not about the colour. It’s about saying to the downtown businesses that the town believes in you, we support you,” says Mood.
The mayor reminds people of what the downtown looked like just a few years ago, with many empty storefronts amid tired-looking buildings. She says this was through no one’s fault. The economic downturn, particularly in the years with no ferry service, coupled with other economic pieces, were hard on many, Mood says.
“But nobody is going to purchase a business – or I would suggest a home – in an area where nobody is maintaining, much less upgrading. And so when we match dollar for dollar up to the $5,000, it’s encouraging business neighbours to step up and do their part,” she says. Empty storefronts have been filling up again. Some businesses have relocated or expanded within the downtown. It is hoped this continues to spread.
The mayor points to local businessman Richard LeBlanc as just one example. He has carried out three façade restorations that are both beautiful and unique. And others have made their businesses and the downtown more inviting and vibrant through their efforts.
“As a mayor, it is truly humbling to watch what some of these business owners have done,” the mayor says. “They have gone above and beyond and it just speaks to what we are trying to create and the fact they believe in the vision for our town.”
Given that funding is running out for this budget year, some façade program approvals will have to wait until next year. The town revisits its façade allotment each year in the budget.
“There are limited funds but I don’t want somebody to not be able to tap into this,” says the mayor. “For next year we’ll be ahead of the game understanding who wants to be a part of it and hopefully we’re in a good place where we can match those funds with the needs.”
A big splash of yellow on Water Street.
The Pier 1 building is seeing transformation.
New Century Restaurant went through the facade program in a previous year.
5 THINGS TO KNOW:
1. The Town of Yarmouth offers a façade improvement grant program to assist downtown property owners and tenants with the financing of street-oriented building façade improvements.
2. The program is administered by the Yarmouth Facade Society, a not-for-profit volunteer board with support from the town’s Economic Development staff.
3. Since the program was introduced the town has invested grants totaling $250,227.08.
4. Since the program was introduced participating the value of the improvement by businesses is more than $650,447 .
5. You can find lots of information about the façade program on the Town of Yarmouth’s website.