Palatine to offer downtown building owners grants for exterior upgrades

Palatine village council members supported a plan Monday to offer tax increment financing district dollars to help owners of older commercial properties downtown invest in exterior renovations.

The plan would aside $450,000 from the village's downtown TIF district for a two-year facade improvement grant program. The council will vote at a later date to appropriate the funds.

Buildings within the TIF district that were constructed prior to 2000, with the majority of the first floor devoted to nonresidential, sales tax-generating uses, will be eligible.

The general borders of the TIF district are Plum Grove Road on the east, Palatine Road on the south, Smith Street on the west and Wood Street on the north.

The village would grant up to $1,000 per linear foot of a building's frontage onto a public street, with a maximum grant of $50,000 per building. An additional $500 per linear foot would be available for a building that is more than one story tall, with the grant capped at $75,000.

The money would comes as a reimbursement of up to half of eligible and verified expenses, or 25% of costs associated with signage, awnings or exterior lighting.

Eligible work would include facade renovations, tuck-pointing, masonry repair, new exterior awnings, doors, windows, lighting and signage, and rebuilt front walls and foundations.

Applications would need village council approval, and improvements would need to be completed within one year.

Village Manager Reid Ottesen said the plan is similar to a grant program that helped with renovations to 11 properties between 2011 and 2014, including the Music Room at 26 N. Brockway St., TJ O'Briens at 53 W. Slade St., Mexico Uno at 15 N. Brockway St. and Monson Jewelers at 17-25 N. Brockway St.

Ottesen said the program spurred about $250,000 in private investment.

The proposal initially included interior improvements, including plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning, but some council members were reluctant to move forward with that.

"(Doing) the interior just seems anti-competitive or special treatment," Councilman Tim Millar said.

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