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Main Street grant a sweet deal for Waynesboro shop

September 26, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Main Street Waynesboro Inc. recently launched its facade improvement program with a grant that allowed Zoe's Chocolates to upgrade its storefront.

"I love the paint job and the windows. I love it all," said Zoe Tsoukatos, who described the application as really simple.

Business owners and property owners with buildings that front Main Street are eligible for as much as $5,000 in matching funds for facade projects. The grant, which is connected to a Pennsylvania Downtown Center program, requires that the applicant agree to spend the same amount as awarded.

Main Street Waynesboro Inc. Manager Bruce Dreisbach said that in addition to painting and woodwork renovations like those at Zoe's Chocolates on East Main Street, an applicant could use the money for signs and awnings.

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"It's not a new program, but it's new for us," he said.

Main Street Waynesboro Inc. has been approved to each year receive $30,000 worth of grant money, which comes from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. It will complement a similar program administered by the Borough of Waynesboro, Dreisbach said.

"Our biggest problem is actually convincing business owners to use the facade program," he said, saying that every person looks at the downtown in a "glass half empty or half full" manner.

Because each applicant can obtain grants twice a year, Dreisbach envisions property owners attacking large projects in small segments. He said that a renovated first-floor commercial storefront could attract new tenants, increase revenue from rent and allow the property owner to later improve the second and third floors.

Also, keeping project estimates less than $25,000 means that property and business owners can avoid paying the prevailing wage.

"It becomes cost prohibitive for business owners if you do it all at once," Dreisbach said.

He said that while three applications are under review for grant money, extra money remains in coffers for this year's distribution.

"It's an easy way to renew a Main Street," Dreisbach said.

Buildings must have some commercial use in order to be eligible for a grant. They also must be between Clayton Avenue and Franklin Street.

"Later on, we may make residential buildings eligible," Dreisbach said.

Applications are reviewed based on quality of construction, consistency with the downtown's appearance and appropriateness in relation to neighboring buildings.

For more information, call Main Street Waynesboro Inc. at 717-762-0397.

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