The municipality will be accepting applications for the Downtown and Main Street Areas Community Improvement Plan. Shown is downtown Chatham on Tuesday. (Trevor Terfloth/The Daily News)

To help encourage investment in downtown areas, the municipality will be offering funding to assist merchants with building improvements.

Council recently approved the Downtown and Main Street Areas Community Improvement Plan (CIP), in addition to Commercial CIP applications currently being accepted.

The total amount available this year for community improvement grants is $385,543, according to a staff report.

The municipality implemented the DCIP from 2004 until 2014, covering Blenheim, Bothwell, Chatham, Dresden, Erieau, Highgate, Merlin, Morpeth, Ridgetown, Thamesville, Tilbury, Wallaceburg and Wheatley.

However, since 2015, the budget for CIP grants has been entirely dedicated to the implementation of the CCIP program. At that time, it was anticipated the increase in new CCIP applications would exhaust the annual grant budget.

“While there has been some uptake in grant funding for CCIP projects, the demand has been less than what was anticipated prior to its implementation,” the report stated. “Due to the low demand for grants, the Reserve for Community Improvement Plan has accumulated $251,543.”

“In addition to the reserve account balance, the CCIP is funded by an additional

$134,000 base budget allotment. Therefore, the total amount available in 2017 for community improvement grants is $385,543.”

In total, 147 successful applications for financial incentive grants were received through the DCIP. These applications transferred approximately $2 million in grants.

For every dollar contributed in improvement grants, private property owners invested approximately $4.40, the report stated.

In addition to grants, $1,425,000 in interest-free loans supported eligible projects, and there were also property tax rebates

“Recently, there have been several inquiries regarding the availability of DCIP grants to support proposed private redevelopment projects in the downtown and main street areas,” the report stated. “These projects would be beneficial to contributing to Chatham-Kent’s vibrant and attractive downtown and main street areas. These private investments will encourage people to shop downtown and in turn, attract even more investment to these areas.”

Applications must demonstrate that the proposed projects meet all eligibility criteria in the DCIP. Grants are paid following project completion.

 

Story credit to The Chatham Daily News