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Lebanon awarded façade improvement grant

Staff Reports • Updated Nov 17, 2016 at 2:00 PM

Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Randy Boyd, Tennessee Community Development Commissioner, announced Thursday that the City of Lebanon as a recipient of a Commercial Façade Improvement Grant.

Historic Lebanon will administer the grant and it will benefit the Lebanon Historic Commercial District as recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.

Commercial Façade Improvement Grants are derived from Tennessee’s federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds and are used to improve commercial buildings in downtown districts that have active revitalization programs in place through the Tennessee Main Street and Tennessee Downtowns programs.

Grants can be used for exterior improvements including new awnings and signs, painting, where appropriate, windows and doors, brick repair and other upgrades.

Historic Lebanon submitted the grant application in July and will receive the maximum amount of $100,000.

“Receiving this grant has been a goal of our organization for several years and will allow us to facilitate needed improvements to our Square buildings,” Historic Lebanon executive director said. “I am proud of Historic Lebanon’s board of directors and the support of the community.  This grant is validation of our hard work.”

Parks said she wanted to thank the City of Lebanon for their continued efforts to revitalize the historic public square, noting Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead is a strong supporter of the use of Historic Preservation for positive economic impact.

Craighead noted that the grant would be the “next step towards becoming the best Square in the Mid-State,” and thanked the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development for their confidence in Lebanon’s effort to “maximize preservation to spur economic success.”

Parks said Lebanon’s need for the commercial façade grant addresses physical maintenance of the structures. Many of the buildings in the area have been vacant for numerous years, have windows boarded over, and if rented, see a high turnover rate.

These issues are not unique to Lebanon but require a plan of action, which this grant would enable.

The specifics of Historic Lebanon’s plan for exterior maintenance and rehabilitation include: removal of inappropriate awnings and façade materials; restoration of windows; the use of a historical color palette on facades which are painted; improvement of current signage; and the introduction of lighting to enhance unique architectural features.

Historic Lebanon will notify eligible property owners of grant requirements and how to apply for grant funds. Eligible properties will submit an application to the Historic Lebanon design committee and will be evaluated for the proposed project’s benefit to the individual building, as well as the benefit to adjacent properties and the area as a whole, the current condition of the building and the urgency of needed maintenance, and those projects having the most positive impact towards achieving Historic Lebanon’s design plan.

During the application process, Historic Lebanon held public meetings and more than 15 property owners indicated an interest in participating in the program.

Parks said another anticipated benefit of the grant is to spur economic revitalization not only for properties receiving the grant but surrounding ones as well. This revitalization is a key point in Historic Lebanon’s overall downtown development plan.

“It is the goal of Historic Lebanon for this grant to further downtown revitalization efforts by spurring property owners to address needed building improvements not only for financial incentive but out of a sense of civic pride,” Parks said.

“'Historic renovations to our downtown core can help our community continue to thrive and, in turn, ensure future economic development opportunities and promote continued growth through the city of Lebanon,” Sarah Haston, Lebanon Economic Development director said.

“The downtown area is the heartbeat of a city and these communities are taking steps to help their downtowns thrive,” Haslam said. “I congratulate the nine communities awarded the Commercial Façade Improvement Grants this round. They are moving their downtowns in the right direction and helping us reach our goal of making Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

“The overall architectural impact of the Commercial Façade Improvement Grant project will be very positive. Receiving this grant will necessitate property owners carefully researching the history of their building and creating an appropriate plan for the façade,” Parks said. 

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