Visual Improvement Program (VIP)
Due to high demand, the Office of Economic Initiatives has temporarily suspended new applications for the Visual Improvement Program. Please contact our team with any questions.
Façade & Sign Grant Program
Through the Visual Improvement Program, the City will provide technical and financial assistance to Thrive in the 05 property owners or business tenants seeking to renovate or restore exterior façades, signage, and lighting for commercial buildings. The purpose of the VIP program is to encourage investment in, and revitalization of, key commercial areas and corridors through incentives and infrastructure improvements. The program is designed to impact properties in need of revitalization and strives to increase sales and/or revenue for the property owner or tenant.
How does the VIP work?
- Small business owner, or property owner, completes online application, providing contact information and a detailed description of the proposed improvements.
- City staff conducts an initial review to determine eligibility, and will then contact the applicant.
- City staff will engage qualified applicants to determine which improvements are eligible for reimbursement through the Program.
- For eligible improvements, the City will reimburse up to $50,000 of well-designed property improvements. The applicant must provide a 15% cash match.
- Applicants are expected to hire design and construction professionals to work on the project from start to finish; however, City staff may provide limited technical assistance and project guidance.
- City staff monitors the progress of the project to ensure compliance with Program guidelines.
What improvements are eligible for VIP funding?
- New storefront construction, appropriately scaled within an existing building.
- Awnings or canopies in character with the building and streetscape.
- Lighting that appropriately illuminates signage, storefront window displays, and recessed areas of a building façade.
- Window replacement and window framing visible from the street and appropriately scaled to the building.
- Curbing, irrigation, approved trees, or other landscape features attached to the building.
- Removal of architectural barriers to public accessibility.
- Other improvements that meet the objectives of the Visual Improvement Program.
Who is eligible for the VIP?
- Applicants must be commercial property owners or commercial tenants located within the Thrive in the 05 Choice Neighborhoods area.
- Tenants must have written approval from the property owner to participate in the Program.
- Preference will be given to independent businesses not contractually required to maintain standardized décor, architecture, signs or similar features.
- The City will give priority to businesses and commercial property owners located within “an area that benefits low- and moderate-income residents”, as defined by the Department of Housing & Community Development.
Additional Rules & Guidelines
- Applicants must comply with all State and local laws and regulations pertaining to licensing, permits, building code, and zoning requirements.
- Applicants must agree not to change or alter the property improvements without prior written approval from the Office of Economic Initiatives for three years from the date of the reimbursement check issued under the program.
- Improvements made prior to written approval by the Office of Economic Initiatives will not be funded.
- Property owners must be current on all municipal taxes prior to participation in the program.
- Any and all nonconforming signage on the property must be permanently removed as part of the improvement.
- The Visual Improvement Program is a grant-funded program through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Choice Neighborhoods program. All approved projects must be compliant with HUD Choice Neighborhoods guidelines.