Northport Looks To Fine-Tune Facade Improvement Grant Program

NORTHPORT, AL — Following the success of the first incarnation of its facade improvement program, the Northport Redevelopment Authority is hoping to improve upon the grant program as a way to further impact large swaths of the city.

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As Patch previously reported, the last round of grant funding was announced in December 2021 after the additional money was allocated through the city’s Northport First Fund — revenue generated from its relatively new 1-cent sales tax increase.

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During the first round, S677,359.35 was requested from 45 total applicants, with 27 ultimately being approved and 10 signing formal agreements.

Attorney and Northport Redevelopment Authority support staffer Jay Stuck pointed to examples to highlight the success of the program, namely improvements to Rhubarb’s in downtown Northport and Vestavia Plaza off of McFarland Boulevard.

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ALSO READ: Right Space Commercial Property Spotlight | Northport’s Vestavia Plaza

In working to retool the program’s approach to maximize its impact, Stuck said the original version of the program saw small grants given in the hopes of touching numerous places throughout the city.

Still, Stuck said the impact was far too small to spur widespread improvement, so the decision was made to shift the way the program offered grants.

“The goal is the catalyst projects,” Stuck explained. “And to impact surrounding areas in a positive way. In this round, there will be additional points awarded for projects in certain parts of the city. Areas receiving particular attention are from the Lurleen Wallace Bridge to [Highway] 82, both north and south, and from east of the city limits to the [Highway] 43 intersection. Those two sections will receive priority analysis because those are the hidden gems — highly used properties that need updating but could generate those kinds of catalyst projects.”

Stuck went on to request that the city’s allocation of $400,000 be split across four larger projects as opposed to a long list of smaller efforts.

The minimum project size for applicants will be $200,000 and, to better promote the overall initiative, applicants will acknowledge and allow signage on their properties showing that the upgrades were thanks in part to the Northport Facade Improvement Program.

The grants would be a 50/50 match for the business owners on a reimbursable basis, with Stuck also saying the process will allow for developers to request a different payment structure.

What’s more, Stuck said the Northport Development Authority has been working with the city’s IT department to build out a database to which every board member will have access to. This is intended to save time during the application vetting process.

Stuck also said the submission process will now be available online and, while the website is still being built, the form itself is available here.

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