You only have one opportunity to make a first impression. And for business owners, storefront aesthetics could either drive business up or away. Unfortunately, expenses associated with renovating the outside of a business can put a halt on such efforts. But with help from the City of Raleigh, it is possible to increase customer traffic, gain more exposure, and build a better business brand.

Since the 1980’s, the City has been helping businesses with funding via the Façade Rehabilitation Grant Program. To date, more than 100 property owners in downtown Raleigh and older commercial districts have benefited from the program, putting a new face on the way they market their goods and services. The program provides up to $10K in grant rebates for each project, making it possible for businesses of any size to refurbish the exterior of existing buildings, restoring them to their former glory or completely reinventing them.

Funds for the exterior rehabilitation of existing buildings are available on a first-come, first-service basis once every 10 years. Recipients of the grant agree to maintain the new façade for a period of ten years.

The type of improvements eligible for funding include removal of false fronts (such as aluminum panels), repair or replacement of windows, doors and cornices, repair or replacement of façade materials, new signage, new awnings, exterior lighting and painting, and design and construction costs. Routine maintenance is not eligible for this funding.

Businesses located in the University Village Pedestrian Business Overlay District are eligible for grant rebates of up to $10K or 50% of exterior rehabilitation costs, whichever is less. Downtown businesses, or those located in one of the other Pedestrian Business Overlay Districts, are eligible for up to $5K or 50% of exterior rehabilitation costs, whichever is less.

Property owners or business tenants may apply for the grants. Applications must be submitted and approved before any construction can begin, and all work must comply with the City’s codes, ordinances and policies. Once work begins, it must be completed within 12 months of the project approval date. And if the property is in a historic district, a Certificate of Appropriateness would need to be obtained prior to any work being done.

If you’re interested in applying for façade grant funds, please visit the webpage for further information about eligibility and other important requirements. We've also posted some great before and after pictures of previously renovated buildings. Questions about the program can be directed to the Urban Design Center at 919-996-4635.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week!