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Second Front

DDA awards $40K in facade grants

Artists conception of the southeast corner of Washington and Burdick and the old Oxford Lumber building at the corner of E. Burdick and Mill streets. (click for larger version)
July 28, 2010 - A few business in downtown Oxford will soon be getting a face lift after the Downtown Development Authority Board handed out facade grant money at their meeting on July 19.

The board awarded three facade grants to Les Thomas, the property owner of 2 S. Washington and 6 S. Washington and one facade grant to Steve Stoll, the owner of Burdick St. Lawn and Landscaping Supply and Equipment.

Thomas received two facade grants totalling $20,000 for the Wireless Toyz store, located on 2 S. Washington.

Because it sits on the corner of S. Washington and Burdick St., he received a grant for the front that sits on S. Washington and for the front that sits on Burdick St.

(click for larger version)
"The improvements he made to that building are phenomenal," said Executive Director of the Downtown Development Authority Madonna Van Fossen.

Thomas plans to completely redo the exterior of the second floor of the building. He would like to restore some of the exterior to the original state, plus make a few additions.

On the original building design, there was a triangle cap to the building on 2 S. Washington. Over the years, the cap disappeared.

Now Thomas wants to bring it back, plus add a clock on the corner of the building.

"The building was in disrepair, and that is what started the project three years ago," said Thomas. "A lot of this coping will get replaced with new material."

He will also replace the windows.

Because of his ambitious idea, the DDA awarded him the two grants for 2 S. Washington, as well as an additional facade grant of $10,000 for 6 S. Washington since it joins with 2 S. Washington.

Burdick Street Landscaping Supply and Equipment also received a facade grant of $10,000 to help them redo the complete exterior of the building.

"We are going to do the exterior of the building," said John Bradshaw, the general manager for Burdick Street Landscaping Supply and Equipment.

The plan calls for a brick front to go on the building to make it look like downtown Oxford.

"We got a brick facade going in and new windows," said Stoll. "It's going to look like a two story building and we are going to go for an awning grant too."

"That is what we are in the process of trying to get the proper colors and the layout of the brick itself...we have been working on this for quite a while and we are very pleased that the village gave us the grant," Bradshaw said.

The process began a year ago when Stoll was looking to purchase the building.

"We got all the old structure down," Bradshaw said. "We had to demolition the steel structure so that is all down. Now we are ready to apply the facade."

Van Fossen noted that the facade grants were matching, meaning that the winners would have to put in the same amount of money, if not more than they were awarded.

In order to even be considered for a facade grant, business owners have a very lengthy process on their hands. They must first fill out an application and collect all of the bids, sample materials and illustrations of what the finished project would look like and turn them over to the building inspector.

Once the building inspector signs off on the project, everything gets submitted to the DDA office, where the design committee reviews the application.

Upon review, the design committee can either recommend to either award the grant to the applicant or suggest changes to the applicant. Once pre-approved, the application gets put on the agenda for the next DDA board meeting for final approval. Upon approval, the business owner can begin construction.

Funds are awarded when the owner submits the paid receipts to Van Fossen, who in turn submits them to the next billing cycle.

According to Van Fossen, there are over $21,500 in requests for facade grants.

She praised the downtown business owners for getting together to reevaluate the physical appearance of their buildings and apply for the facade grant.

"With the grant, what a great program," said Thomas. "Many people have taken advantage of it and I wanted to do the same. I wanted to do a project that was really impactful and visually appealing to this town."

"I am excited to have had this opportunity with the folks at the design committee and the DDA board and it is very appreciated," Thomas added.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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