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Kingsport facade, redevelopment funds need cash infusion

Sharon Hayes • Apr 7, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Economic Development Board has exhausted funds designated for both facade grants and redevelopment grants — at least for now.

The KEDB on Tuesday approved the latest reimbursements and requests through the Facade Grant Program and the Redevelopment Incentive Fund, essentially draining both pools of money until more funding is allocated.

“When we started both of these programs, we knew that in many cases we were just testing the waters to see how much interest there might be, and what we have found is that they have been very popular,” said Jeff Fleming, Kingsport’s assistant city manager for development.

“As part of next year’s budget process, which we are in the middle of as we speak, we will be considering how much we should capitalize those funds in the future,” he said.

The Facade Grant Program was started in 2006 to encourage property owners to enhance and upgrade their storefronts. The program started with a pool of $135,000, and property owners could get up to $5,000 in reimbursements for facade improvements.

Last summer, KEDB used the facade grant model to establish the Redevelopment Incentive Fund to further encourage property owners to fix up their businesses.

Through the program, developers can receive grants totaling 10 percent of the project value up to a maximum of $20,000. The Redevelopment Incentive Fund started with a pool of $100,000.

“KEDB initially funded both programs with the understanding that we would have to talk about how we would handle recurring funding,” Fleming said.

Both funds are expected to be replenished. Fleming noted that reimbursements provided through the funds only cover a portion of the cost of redevelopment in the downtown area.

“The portion that we provided incentive for is only a fraction of how much is truly being invested downtown, so it ends up being a win-win for everyone involved,” he said.

On Tuesday, KEDB approved two reimbursement requests and two new funding requests through the Facade Grant Program.

KEDB approved reimbursing $5,000 to the Downtown Kingsport Association and $2,277.76 to DeWayne’s World of Comics & Games on East Sullivan St.

KEDB also approved two new application requests for $5,000 each, submitted by developer Doug Beatty for his properties at 240 E. Main St. and 155 Broad St.

To continue funding the program, Kingsport City Manager John Campbell said the city is considering using tax increment financing, as well as one-time money in the budgeting process.

Meanwhile, KEDB will continue to accept facade grant applications, which will be considered when additional funding is allocated.

The KEDB on Tuesday also approved several reimbursements from the Redevelopment Incentive Fund, which is also now exhausted.

However, applications can still be submitted for the program.

For more information, call 392-8811.

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