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Million-dollar makeover

CDBG Downtown Revitalization grant to improve façades in downtown area

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It’s official. Osceola’s downtown area is going to be getting a million-dollar makeover.

“Anytime you’re improving a downtown rather than letting it depreciate, it’s always a good investment,” said Derek Lumsden, executive director of Osceola Chamber/Main Street, during an interview Aug. 21.

During an Aug. 20 Osceola City Council meeting, the city council approved the 2013 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Downtown Revitalization Award in the amount of $468,500.

Façade grant

What’s commonly known as the “façade grant,” will bring approximately $1 million in funding to the downtown area.

The façade-grant program allows building owners to fix up the front of their buildings. This means awnings, windows, storefront windows, doors, tuckpointing, which is fixing the building’s bricks, and cornices, which are on the top of the building.

“Anything on that front facade, as they call it, is eligible,” Lumsden said.

Osceola Chamber/Main Street and the city of Osceola applied for the CDBG Downtown Revitalization grant together. It is also a historic preservation grant.

The grant is a matching grant from the city. The city will match 25 percent of the funding and each individual building owner will help match the other 25 percent.

“I think it’s a great thing. It’ll be wonderful,” said Mayor Fred Diehl during the city council meeting.

15 buildings

There are 15 buildings in the grant project. The buildings are all within the area of the square in Osceola.

“If it does what it’s supposed to do, I think it could be a really big impact. And maybe, something that would help turn the downtown around, with the addition of a couple of new businesses here and there,” said Councilman Dr. George Fotiadis during the council meeting.

When it comes to the project, Osceola Chamber/Main Street will be “taking the reins” to get the rest of the work done, Lumsden said. If people have questions about the project, the best thing to do is ask him.

Next step

The project’s goal is to have all the work on the façades finished in approximately two years.

“We’re in the process now of looking to hire an architect,” Lumsden said. “Those proposals are due at the end of August. So, hopefully, we can have an architect firm hired mid-September.”

Lumsden said he’s hoping to have construction started by April or May 2014.

“If nothing else, getting a facelift of 15 buildings in a very concentrated area shows progress,” he said.

With so many buildings being revitalized, the project will have a “wide-scale impact,” and encourage more investment in the downtown area, Lumsden added.

“We are vibrant. We’re going to look vibrant. We’re going to be vibrant. That’s the hope,” Lumsden said.

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