ELYRIA — For some time, there has been talk about giving downtown Elyria a facelift.
A plan to do so soon will go before City Council, as at a joint meeting Monday, City Council’s Finance and Community Development committees heard a pitch from Mayor Holly Brinda about her plan for a “Downtown Facade Improvement Matching Program.”
Before beginning a facade rehabilitation or repair project, interested commercial businesses or building owners would be able to apply to the program for reimbursement of 50 percent of the project’s cost up to $10,000, she explained.
A grant, and not a loan, the program would use Issue 6 money budgeted for economic development. Brinda recommended $100,000 to start, working on a first-come, first-served basis.
“Over the past couple of years we’ve tried to revitalize downtown with various programs,” Brinda said, but federal U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development money has “cumbersome requirements” for use of its Community Development Block Grants, including income requirements, and that the money benefit low- to middle-income residents and communities.
A similar program using CDBG money had “no takers,” she added. This program would provide money for only certain work, such as painting, trim, cladding, brick pointing, new doors and windows, signage, awnings and canopies, lighting and cornice work. Interiors, facades not visible from the street and landscaping would not be eligible, nor would residential property owners, Brinda said.
Brinda said she researched similar programs and hopes that “downstream” such a program will have “many benefits.”
Those include new businesses moving in and increased investment in the area, an increase in customers, an increase in existing businesses seeing more first-time customers, increases in sales and local tax revenue and increased rental revenue for landlords and property owners.
“Our downtown is a historic downtown and this would certainly give it a boost,” Brinda said. “We’re ready to start as soon as Council votes on it.”
In other business
Community Development committee members forwarded to City Council a recommendation to approve the issuance of a new Class D1 and D2 liquor license to Carter Management Company of 801 Foster Ave.
Law Director Scott Serazin said Elyria police had no opposition to the request by the owners of the former T&A Lounge at 801 Foster Ave. The bar’s liquor license had been suspended for one year, and the owners came back and requested to reopen as a pizza restaurant, serving beer and wine.
“They made concessions and served their license suspension,” Serazin said.
Twice before, the owners of the bar were eyed by the city for possible shutdown over a large number of police calls. Between January 2014 and June 2016, Elyria police responded 98 times for calls to the bar. That number includes the Jan. 5, 2014, murder of a regular patron being killed near the bar, three robberies, 34 “disturbances,” assaults, gunshots and noise complaints, according to a September 2016 Chronicle-Telegram article.
In 2010, the city held a hearing to discuss the T&A Lounge, but the owners agreed to beef up security with exterior lights and cameras, according to Chronicle archives.
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