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Brighton Council to Apply for State Facade Grant to Improve Downtown Buildings

The City is applying for $108,000 in grant funds through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to improve the building faces of 412, 416 and 420 W. Main Street.

Brighton City Council members voted unanimously to approve a resolution allowing City Manager Dana Foster to submit final facade grant paperwork to the state following a public hearing during its meeting Thursday night.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation will grant $108,000 to replace the current green facade of 412, 416 and 420 W. Main Street where , and are housed. The total project cost is $144,000.

Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Matt Modrack said are designing the facade changes.

"This is just one building really, and it's totally out of character for the downtown to have this -- it looks like a strip mall center," Modrack said. "So they're going to take that green facade off and give it a look of two-story individual buildings with canopies on them. It will look great. It's going to be a big difference because it's a big change."

The $108,000 grant will have conditions -- the largest being job creation.

"There are job creation requirements because the Michigan Economic Development Corporation is all about job creation, so they want to try and encourage that," Modrack said. "So the funds become available for appropriate type of improvements like that in downtown areas if the property owner commits to -- in this case I think it's the creation of five jobs total -- and that can be fulltime employees or part-time jobs."

Other requirements include how the project is advertised and bidded and payback provisions.

The grant also requires a local match of funds as well as a match from the building owners. To satisfy part of that local match, Modrack said he is currently working to partner with two local banks for $200,000 in a line of credit -- $100,000 from and $100,000 from .

Modrack said he is not through working out the issues with the bank partnership program yet and because of that, the DDA voted to committ $30,000 as a potential local match to the project during its meeting Tuesday morning.

"Thats not what I wanted to do," Modrack said. "That's not what was originally proposed. I expect that in time -- and I do have time to resolve this -- that we will be using the partnership program."

Brighton resident Pat Cole spoke out against the project during the public hearing.

"I am opposed to those grants because it's my understanding that we are also going to end up having to put in monies from the DDA (Downtown Development Authority) to match those grants," Cole said. "And those funds are captured funds from citizens like myself. So I am opposed to the beautification of the facades -- the front faces -- of buildings within the city. I think the owners should stand responsible for taking care of these things themselves instead of the DDA executive spending time ferreting out grants. I think that it's a waste of money because it improves individual's business properties."

Cole said that if the business facades are improved, it raises the owners property value and that owner could sell it for more money.

"What do we get out of it?" she asked. "Nothing."

Council member Jim Muzzin said that any business is for sale on any given day if the right price comes along.

Modrack said that a thriving downtown can result in improved neighborhoods and gave examples of Rochester, Plymouth and Royal Oak.

Council member Claudia Roblee said she supported the facade grant program.

"This is an investment in our entire community," Roblee said. "When we can do things like this -- economic development in our downtown or anywhere else in our city -- it is an investment. And when we make these types of investments, the result is what you see in our downtown right now -- a thriving, active, vibrant downtown. And I think we need to continue to make these investments."

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