Application Guidelines

The Union City Borough Façade Program seeks to assist commercial property owners and/or business owners (with property owner permission) to restore facades of downtown buildings in order to enhance the appearance of the central business district. The purpose of the Façade Improvement Grant Program is:

  • to preserve the architectural heritage of the downtown and the historic district,
  • to foster an attractive and safe environment,
  • to stimulate private investment in the form of new development, redevelopment, and renovation that is consistent with the historic integrity of the downtown and the historic district,
  • to foster civic pride and a sense of place, and
  • to create a compelling image to increase commerce and profits, attract new businesses, retain existing businesses, attract all age groups, and encourage long-term commitments to the community.

Applicants will be required to meet with representatives of the Facade Committee prior to submitting an application and review project and budget details.

These façade grants will be made on a 1:1 matching basis. The maximum grant awarded will be $5,000.

Grants will be made on a reimbursement basis, following a process which includes application submittal, grant committee review and approval, and construction. Applicants will receive grant funds after completion of the approved façade improvement project, submission of project photographs, and copies of invoices, receipts, and proof of payment(s).

All projects must be completed within 180 days of grant award notification. Grant monies may not be used for permit fees, roofs, sidewalks, benches, trees, flowers, shrubs, or temporary signs. However, if a roof is part of the façade (such as a mansard roof), the portion of the roof that is visible from the street may be eligible and included in the grant award.

Applications are due April 27, 2018. Priority will be given to projects that meet all of the criteria and will have the greatest overall impact on the downtown.

Eligibility:

Any person(s) owning property in the established boundaries is eligible to apply. Qualifying commercial properties include single-purpose retail and office buildings and mixed-use buildings containing combinations of retail, office, and residential apartments. Merchants located in the defined area are eligible to apply with the property owner’s consent.

Single-purpose apartment buildings are generally not eligible for design grants. However, individual proposals will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

For larger buildings where more than one storefront exists within the same façade, each storefront may be eligible for Façade Improvement Grant funds.

The facade is the part of the building facing the street or streets. It includes the entirety of the face of the building including upper floors which often retain their original appearance.

Funds are available to improve the following façade components.

  1. Architectural Elements/Windows/Doors – Funds are available for painting, rehabilitation, re-glazing and reconditioning of existing windows (including display, ornamental, upper-story windows), doors and exterior shutters when they are original to the building. Grant funds will not be available for replacement of original windows, doors and exterior shutters or those elements when they are in character with the building, except when the windows are severely deteriorated and cannot be rehabilitated. Grant funds will be available for replacement of existing windows, doors and exterior shutters if they are not original and are out of character with the building.
  2. Exterior Painting and Restoration – Funds are available for repair, cleaning, refinishing, painting, and restoration of exterior woodwork and trim, architectural sheet metal and/or decorative brick elements. This category includes exterior masonry repairs, restoration, painting (in the case of brick, only if originally painted), or low-pressure water or steam cleaning. Roof and commercial cornices, parapets and other decorative elements may be repaired and reconditioned. Replacement of cornice and trim elements will be permitted when they are severely deteriorated and cannot be repaired. Missing decorative elements can be replaced utilizing extant examples found elsewhere on the building, period photographs, or, in the absence of both, examples of similar buildings in downtown Union City. Roof repair or replacement is not fundable.
  3. Signs and Awnings – Funds are available for repair, or removal and replacement, of existing signage and awnings, as well as installation of new signage and awnings, provided none of the original sign panel(s) or signage are still intact, in which case original panels may be rehabilitated. New panels shall be installed within the original space reserved for that purpose or, in the absence of a sign panel or frieze, be mounted in a sensitive manner approved by the façade committee. Lighting fixtures that directly illuminate a sign or provide area lighting under awnings are also eligible for assistance. Funds may also be used to purchase new awnings for entrances. No funds are available for sidewalks or site amenities.
  4. Design Assistance – Funds are available for architectural, historical façade research and preservation and graphic design services.

All improvements must comply with standards set forth in the Union City Borough zoning ordinance and building codes, as well as applicable sections of the Pennsylvania building codes and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines.

Improvements should comply with the Secretary of the Interiors Standards for Rehabilitation located at https://www.nps.gov/tps/standards/rehabilitation.htm. If questions arise, please refer them to Preservation Erie at info@preservationerie.org.

Grant funding may not be used to pay for work that is currently in progress or has been completed.

Only one application per project may receive funding.

Union City Borough reserves the right to consider increasing matching funding for “significant structures,” such as corner buildings or anchor buildings.

Funding for phased projects will be considered on a case-by-case basis when compelling circumstances are presented by an applicant.

Applicants must be up-to-date and/or in compliance with all local, state and federal taxes.

Program Boundaries:

All buildings within the designated downtown boundary, which is Main Street from High Street to Concord Street and High Street between Main and First Avenue, are eligible for these grant funds, provided that all improvements are in compliance with the codes and ordinances of Union City Borough.