In order to ensure the city’s ability to continue administering Community Development Block Grant-based loans through its Revolving Loan Fund, Delaware City Council on Monday approved a resolution allowing City Manager R. Thomas Homan to enter into an RLF administration agreement with the Ohio Development Services Agency.
According to a city fact sheet, the RLF, which is funded through U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development dollars distributed by the state, is a “financing mechanism from which loans are available for gap-financing for community, local, expanding, or startup businesses.”
Marketed as a way to allow businesses to locate or expand with city limits, the RLF provides various loan incentives like a fixed rate, low interest, and/or long-term financing.
After the loan is granted to a business and repayments start rolling in, the repaid funds allow more loans to be made available.
Planning & Community Development Director Dave Efland said the principal and interest paid back into the program annually is approximately $100,000.
Facade program deemed success
Several years ago when companies were trying to rebound after the recession and weren’t interested in utilizing CDBG grants through the city’s RLF, the city petitioned the state to allow for some of the funds to be used to help revitalize downtown.
The move by the city and subsequent approval by the state led to what Efland called one of the highlights of the program — the Downtown Facade Improvement Program.
Dianne Guenther, city development planner, said since the facade program was instituted in 2012, over $900,000 ($505,000 in private investments and $411,000 in grant funding) has been invested into downtown Delaware.
“We’ve had 27 projects go through the program so far,” she said. “This is a 50 percent outright matching grant, and no lien is placed on the property.”
In her opinion, she added, the most impactful of the projects is the work done on Hamburger Inn Diner, 16 N. Sandusky St., in which stucco, old windows, and other applications not original to the building were removed.
Guenther said other “premier projects” completed over the past six years include the facades of Barley Hopsters at 1 N. Sandusky St. and The Bare Bowl building at 6 N. Sandusky St.
“This (program) is basically a thank you from the City of Delaware to the building owners and business owners who have stuck with the city throughout the economic downturn,” Guenther said.
Homan added, “There are a number of reasons why the downtown is undergoing a renaissance now. There are a lot of factors that go into it, but the ability to leverage public dollars with private dollars for the improvement of the overall buildings is a big one and why the downtown is such a destination.”
Four downtown business owners have been awarded grants through the Downtown Facade Improvements Program for 2018: The Backstretch, 14 S. Sandusky St.; the Royal Cabinets building, 38 S. Sandusky St.; the building that houses the law firm of Manos, Martin & Pergram Co., LPA, 50 N. Sandusky St; and the vacant structure next to Olivina Taproom at 50 S. Sandusky St. (corner of Sandusky and Spring streets).
Contact Joshua Keeran at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @KeeranGazette.