The City of Caribou is overseeing $100,000 in grant funding for the awarding of facade improvement grants and slum and blight removal grants for local businesses.

Caribou City Manager Austin Blees says this is a new program for the city, funded through the Downtown TIF District, part of Maine's Municipal Tax Increment Financing Program.  For 2016, the City has set aside $50,000 for each program.

City of Caribou

Blees says the grants will help business owners improve their buildings structurally and aesthetically. The programs are a proposed partnership between the City of Caribou and the private sector to remove blighted properties, improve the facades of commercial and mixed-use properties within the designated Downtown TIF District, and improve property values.

Blees says the Façade Improvement Grants can be used for things like painting, window or door repairs/replacements, signage, awnings, tuckpointing, and storefront restorations. Grant funds will be awarded on a competitive basis, with both small and large projects eligible for funding.

The building must be used for 51% commercial/industrial purposes with no first story residential uses. The grant amount for each project is capped at $7,500 or 50% of the project costs, whichever is less.

Blees says the Slum and Blight Removal Grants can be used for the demolition and removal of unsightly, damaged and unsafe buildings. Applications are ranked on the blighting influences on the neighborhood, the level of blight, and whether or not a re-use of the property has been identified.

The grant amount for each project is capped at $10,000 or 50% of the project costs, whichever is less. Eligibility requirements include owning the property and being current on all city taxes, including real and personal property taxes, and on all bills from the Caribou Utilities District. Properties declared dangerous by the Caribou City Council in accordance with state law are not eligible for the grants.

More information and application forms for the grants are available on the City of Caribou website