The grant, which was $200,000 more than the town requested, is part of a $10 million Community Development Block Grant aimed to support community and economic development projects across the commonwealth.
The funds awarded to Gate City will be used to help make improvements to the facades of 34 businesses that front Jackson Street in downtown. The funds allow for sidewalk improvements, new entryway signs, and the acquisition of two buildings downtown, among other things.
Gate City Mayor Mark Jenkins said the revitalization funds have been needed for some time.
“We knew the town needed to be revitalized,” Jenkins said. “This was one avenue to get rid of the dilapidated and maybe save some of these historic buildings downtown.
“It’s a beautiful area. It just needs a little bit of help.”
Businesses participating in the grant program will be able to have the money, or in-kind work, they put into improving their business matched dollar for dollar up to $5,000 for each facade they have fronting the main road. Lenowisco, which was instrumental in helping Gate City secure the grants, will handle the disbursement of funds.
Gate City Town Manager Steve Templeton said the money will help rid the town of blighted properties while preserving its history.
“I feel it’s going to improve the quality of life and will look so much better once it’s finished,” he said. “And a lot of the old buildings from the 1800s and early 1900s that have a lot of character will be restored.”
The prospect of these improvements, coupled with a recently passed mixed-drink ordinance and a proposed performing arts center, has Templeton and other town officials excited about what the future may hold for Gate City.
“It will make the town more attractive — business and user friendly,” Templeton said. “I think in a couple or three years from here you’ll see an entirely different Gate City altogether. It will be impressive.”