Program has given facelift to numerous businesses
By Ally Lanasa, Staff Writer
(March 18, 2021) Businesses in Berlin’s Main Street District will have access to more funding for façade improvements, following the town’s receipt last week of a $50,000 grant from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).
“I apply for a community legacy grant through DHCD, and then the community legacy grant … funds the Berlin Main Street façade grants,” said Ivy Wells, the town’s economic and community development director.
Through the program, downtown shop owners can apply for up to 50 percent of the cost of their improvement project. Funding, which ranges from $500 to $10,000, can be used for converting windows into curbside pick-up windows, exterior painting, window replacement, adding ramps to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and for new signs.
Work completed prior to a letter of commitment is not eligible for funding.
The Berlin Façade Grant program continues as long as the money lasts.
“That’s what happened two years ago. We received $30,000 for the façade grant, and we don’t have any of that funding left, so that’s why I applied for more funding,” Wells said. “It’s a yearly grant process when I write a community legacy grant. Every year, we make an application.”
In the past, Victorian Charm, 100 N. Main St., was awarded funding for new paint for its building and The Church Mouse Thrift Shop, 101 N. Main St., received a new screen door through the grant.
“Jeffrey Auxer applied for grant funding to add his apartment above his gallery,” Wells recalled.
She added that Baked Dessert Café, 4 Bay St., also received funding to enhance its storefront.
“I would say nearly all of our property owners have applied for some type of façade grant funding,” Wells said.
Building and/or business owners must attach quotes they have received for the projects and before photos of their buildings.
“If they’re getting a new sign, they have to include the design of the sign and what the materials are,” Wells added.
Town staff and volunteers will review the grant applications before they are sent to the Maryland Historic Trust.
“[The Maryland Historic Trust has] to approve all façade grant applications first and foremost,” she said.
Wells added that the town’s use of the money has not gone unnoticed.
“Even over the past few years, we’ve been noted for having one of the most beautiful downtowns in the country, so I think that those façade grants … I think that they help,” Wells said. “People want a little bit of an incentive to make improvements, and we’re happy to be able to offer that.
To apply, visit berlinmd.gov/department/berlin-facade-grant/.