By danny restivo
Officials are hoping a state grant will reinvigorate the city’s downtown area.
Mayor Terry Stocker said the city is seeking a downtown revitalization grant through the Ohio Development Services Agency in an effort to improve the area’s economic landscape.
“We’re trying to make the downtown more appealing for businesses and more inviting for economic activity in the area,” said Stocker. “Building from the core is where the city is going to get the most.”
William Malson of MS Consultants, a civil- engineering firm assisting in the grant-application process, said the city potentially could receive $300,000 in state funding if all aspects of the grant are approved. Malson said those details would be clarified when the grant application is finalized. The deadline for the application is June 21.
Malson said the grant would allow building owners downtown to create improvements to facades, roofs, plumbing, signs, electrical units and other refurbishments.
If approved, the grant would match 50 percent of a building owner’s contribution to a renovation project. According to the program, for every dollar an owner spends, the grant will allow the city to match with another dollar for a project that is $25,000 or less.
As part of the grant- application process, the city is conducting a survey to gauge interests from local business owners in the area.
Alan Donatelli has been the owner and chef of Dona Vito’s Italian Grille on Bridge Street for 10 years. A few years ago, he received a community-development block grant to improve his facade, which was a “huge help,” he said.
Donatelli believes any additional funding would improve any business in downtown. He said he would use the money to repair the roof, update the exterior, landscape the property and build a patio behind the building.
“Having some extra money, extra funding available is a big help,” said Donatelli. “I’m a firm believer in trying to bring more businesses to the community,”
Stocker hopes the grant also will improve the flow of traffic through downtown.
“There’s not a lot of parking right now, and everyone is parking on the street,” said Stocker. “More parking spaces might clear up the road and invite new businesses.”
Malson said the exact boundaries of the revitalization area haven’t been hammered out, but he believes the designated zone would include State Street and Bridge Street.