Sign & Facade Grant Program

City of Lowell Sign & Façade Program 

SIGN AND FACADE FINAL

Program Description:

The City of Lowell’s Sign and Façade Program provides commercial property owners and businesses with financial support and design assistance for the renovation of commercial building facades. This program is part of the City’s economic development strategy to strengthen its neighborhood business districts and downtown commercial center by enhancing the exterior appearance of commercial properties and preserving the character of our neighborhood streetscapes.

The program will target and prioritize neighborhoods and properties/businesses with the greatest need for improvement. In 2017/18,  the following neighborhoods have been selected to participate: 

  • Bridge St. Business Corridor
  • Upper Merrimack Street 
  • Downtown

In the selection of projects, consideration will be given to the level of impact any proposed improvements may have on the subject properties as well as the overall streetscape and neighborhood.

Funding Source: 

Funding for this program is provided through the City of Lowell’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, made available by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Applicants must meet and comply with all Federal requirements of the program including Federal Labor Standards and Environmental Review procedures.

 

Eligible Applicants: 

Property owners of commercial buildings with ground floor storefronts located downtown or within a designated neighborhood business district (see map attached) are eligible to apply. Ground floor commercial tenants may also apply with approval of the property owner as a co-applicant.

Ineligible Applicants: 

Property owners of commercial buildings that house or will house gun shops, pawn shops, liquor stores, smoke shops, tattoo parlors, sexually-oriented businesses, nail shops, and dollar stores. Franchisees are also not eligible under this program.

Eligible Activities: 

Funding under this program may be used in the following projects, but not limited to:

  • Minor façade renovations including the restoration of architectural details
  • Removal of roll down grills
  • Installation of new lighting
  • Signage
  • Awnings
  • Painting
  • New windows and/or doors
  • Accessibility (ADA compliance)
  • Exterior Landscaping
  • Other general improvements.

Funding Availability: 

The maximum grant amount available for façade improvements, per project (storefront) is $2,000; Property owners representing a building with more than one ground floor commercial tenant are eligible for $2,000 per storefront. In this case, storefronts must have separate street numbers.

For more information regarding the Sign & Façade Grant Program and to obtain an application, please contact Maria Dickinson at (978) 674-1435 or via email at mdickinson@lowellma.gov

Additional Resources:  

Applicants may wish to consider other resources to expand the work completed through the Sign and Façade Program.

  • Lowell Historic Board Sign Grant : Grants of up to $500 available for signage for small businesses located within the Downtown Historic District.  
  • LDFC Neighborhood Improvement Loan: The Lowell Development Financial Corporation manages a low-interest loan program for the acquisition, construction, restoration, and/or renovation of commercial properties that may also have a residential component. . For more information, contact the LDFC at 978-459-9899 or at germaine@ldfc.org
  • LDFC BetterBuildings – Energy Efficiency: The Lowell Development Financial Corporation, in collaboration with the City of Lowell, provides low-interest loans for the installation of energy efficiency upgrades in commercial properties. . For more information, contact the LDFC at 978-459-9899 or at germaine@ldfc.org
  • Energy Aggregation Program: The City of Lowell adopted an energy aggregation program which results in higher energy savings during a given year to national grid electric users. A fixed rate for several years ensures price stability for planning purposes for end users. Businesses not already enrolled in the program may “opt-in” by contacting Hampshire Power at 877-700-6165.
  • MassSave Programs for Small Businesses: Please call 1-800-332-3333 or visit National Grid or MassSave to find out about free energy audits and retrofitting programs available for lighting and upgrades to energy efficient equipment.
  • Federal Tax Incentives for Preserving Historic Properties: Federal historic preservation tax incentives are available for any qualified project that the Secretary of the Interior designates as a certified rehabilitation of a certified historic structure. For more information, contact the Historic Board at 978-674-1443 or at sstowell@lowellma.gov
  • Massachusetts Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit: The Massachusetts Historic Rehabilitation Tax allows the certified rehabilitation of an income-producing property to receive up to 20% of the cost of certified rehabilitation expenditures in state tax credit. For more information, contact the Historic Board at 978-674-1443 or at sstowell@lowellma.gov
  • Disabled Access Credit: A non-refundable credit for small businesses that incur expenditures for the purpose of providing access to persons with disabilities. An eligible small business is one that earned $1 million or less or had no more than 30 full time employees in the previous year; they may take the credit each and every year they incur access expenditures. Refer to form IRS 8826, Disabled Access Credit, for information.