Winter Park program helps businesses spruce up
Special to the Sky-Hi News
WINTER PARK – Need new light fixtures? New paint? The Town of Winter Park has a funding program that could help businesses enhance their property.
The money comes from the Winter Park Downtown Enhancement Grant Program, which was established in 2000 through the Downtown Improvement Committee. Since then the town has approved $20,000 each year to be put into the grant program on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The program helps businesses enhance the aesthetics of their property, which in turn enhances the overall look of the town, according to Winter Park Town Planner James Shockey.
A number of local businesses have already taken advantage of this grant: Deno’s Mountain Bistro, for instance, once received monies to build a new log railing for the restaurant’s patio. Winter Park Station received funds for its landscaping, and the Best Western received money to improve its exterior signage and enhance its streetlights.
Cooper Creek Square received the most recent grant – a 50-percent match to install a canopy of lights that will string between the parking garage and the Cooper Creek Square buildings, creating a festive ambiance to the courtyard.
“Basically, we are looking for unique projects that enhance both the property (of the business) and the image of the town,” Shockey said.
“Things such as new paint, pedestrian amenities, sculptures – something that encourages people to get out of their cars and walk.”
In order to be considered for a grant, an application needs to be submitted to the Planning and Zoning Commission, which will review the application and decide what funds will be distributed.
The decision is based on the potential beneficial impact on business activity, and the overall effect on the downtown area regarding traffic flow, pedestrian accessibility and beautification. Applications are then forwarded to Town Council for final approval. As of October 2010, the Town still had $7,000 left in the fund.
If no one applies for the grant, the money is put back into the Town’s general fund at the end of the year. Grant amounts are limited to 50 percent of the project’s total cost.
To apply for a Downtown Enhancement Grant, complete and submit an application from our website, http://www.wpgov.com
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