BERLIN – For the second consecutive year, the town of Berlin has received a grant from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to bolster façade restoration within the town. This year, Berlin was awarded $50,000, down from $75,000 last year.
The program, which encourages residents of Berlin with historic property to keep the town looking well maintained and repaired, did not make much of an impact when it first began last year.
“It took longer to build up steam than first estimated,” said Michael Day, Berlin’s Economic and Community Development Director. “It really just took awhile to catch on.”
Day blamed a lack of overall awareness on the specifics of the program as to why it took so long to gain momentum. He also stated that some property owners were likely skeptic of the façade restoration project and needed to see it in operation for a while before hoping onboard.
“People needed to see it to believe it,” said Day.
But with the effort coming into its second year and receiving another grant from the DHCD, Day believes it has finally caught on.
“We’re having more projects going into the pipeline and now we’re building steam,” Day said.
Because of the grants, the town is able to offer property owners with street facing façades a portion of the expense. Basically, Berlin will match half of what the owner puts into façade restoration up to a point.
“We’ll match up to $20,000,” said Day. “If someone spends $20,000, we’ll give them $10,000.”
Day went on to outline what exactly it would take for a property owner to qualify to receive town funding.
“The money could be used for any kind of improvements to the façade, but only the façade, not every part of the building. Owners can’t use it to rebuild roofs or anything,” Day said. “It can be used for any building in the B-1 district, which is the Main St district.”
Despite the decrease in grant money this year as compared to last, Day expressed confidence in the project and its possible future.
“Last year we got $75,000, this year we got $50,000,” he said, “and we’ll probably apply again next year.”