Facade Improvement Program
Storefronts in the Arts & Cultural District are some of the finest in the entire Commonwealth. However, many have suffered through years of insensitive changes, lack of maintenance, or outright neglect. Studies have shown that restoration and thoughtful design improvements often lead to greater business success by attracting more customers. Together, a series of well-restored and handsome building facades in the Arts & Cultural District will improve the overall image of the District, draw more people to the District, promote retail activity, increase vibrancy, and make a place where our local businesses can thrive.
For these reasons, the City of Richmond is offering a matching grant to encourage façade improvements within the Arts & Cultural District. Suitable projects include uncovering and restoring historical façades, removing existing façade materials and replacing them with more appropriate and attractive designs and materials, architectural lighting of the façade, and other detailing which leads to a substantially enhanced appearance of the building. Projects meeting these objectives are eligible for a reimbursement grant for up to one-half of the costs of the eligible façade improvements.
The Façade Improvement Program does not have the funding to accept any new applications.
For additional information, please contact:
The City has several documents available to assist with designing and building a successful façade improvement in Richmond. Please review each of them before moving forward with your application.
The City of Richmond does not recommend specific providers for design services or contracting on this program; however, we encourage you to use the Office of Minority Business’ Directory if you do not already have a service provider in mind.
What are eligible costs for a project?
The program will fund projects that significantly improve the visual appearance of the entire facade from the street. Suitable projects include uncovering and restoring historical facades, removing existing façade materials and replacing them with more appropriate and attractive designs and materials, architectural lighting of the façade, and other detailing which leads to a substantially enhanced appearance of the building.
Although not eligible for funding on their own, the following may be funded as part of a more comprehensive façade improvement; windows, doors, exterior cleaning, tuck pointing, painting, shutters, and gutters. Design and permit fees associated with the construction are also eligible project costs.
Costs that are NOT eligible include: improvements in progress or completed prior to program application and preliminary approval, new construction, repair or replacement of a roof, work to an alley façade, routine maintenance that is not part of an eligible façade improvement project, billboards and signage, awnings, mechanicals and HVAC systems, interior work, security systems, trash and mechanical enclosures, fencing, parking areas, landscaping, and paving.
What if I want to do a larger renovation that includes ineligible costs?
That’s great! But only eligible costs incurred for a façade renovation can be covered by this grant. The larger project will need to go through all existing permitting processes in addition to the Façade Improvement Program. More information about building permits can be found here. Some of these costs may be eligible under the Jackson Ward CARE Zone administered by the Economic Development Authority (more information available here).
Is this a competitive process or first-come, first-serve?
The Façade Improvement Program is first-come, first-serve – applications will be processed as they are submitted to the Department for approval. The Department will continue to accept applications until the program funds are exhausted.
The Broad Street Block Blitz was a volunteer-driven event on October 26-27, 2013. With building owner’s permissions, façades along the 300 block of East Broad Street were cleaned, painted, and repaired. The City provided a small grant of $5,000 for this event, which updated over 11 storefronts along the Block.