E. Tremont businesses eye possible grants

East Tremont business owners will meet on March 27 to discuss the possible assistance for facade improvements and other helpful city and state programs
Arthur Cusano

East Tremont property and business owners will meet Monday to discuss options aimed at helping the neighborhood business community through city and state programs.

Community Board 6 will host the meeting with representatives of the NYC Small Business Services office on Monday, March 27 at Roy’s restaurant located at 880 E. Tremont Avenue.

The main topic will be the application being submitted by SBS for a grant from the state’s New York Main Street program, explained CB 6 district manager John Sanchez

“This program allows the Small Business Services to reimburse businesses for improvements to their storefront facades and their commercial space for up to $50,000,” Sanchez said.

The program, funded by NYS Office of Community Renewal, is aimed at revitalizing downtown areas through improvements such as façade renovations, interior building upgrades and streetscape enhancements.

The program offers matching grants to non-profit organizations and units of local government to work with local business and property owners to complete the improvements.

The program matches investments at a 3:1 ratio, meaning business and property owners will be reimbursed three dollars for every one spent.

The amount available could be as much as a half million dollars and if awarded to East Tremont, would be the only neighborhood in the city to be awarded by the state under the Main Street program this year.

The stretch of East Tremont Avenue impacted runs from Webster Avenue to the west to Southern Boulevard to the east, and is home to numerous locally owned businesses of all kinds: retail, barber shops, discount stores, restaurants and even some clothing and footwear stores.

The wide array of establishments has left the avenue with a somewhat disjointed appearance, Sanchez said.

“When you walk through the strip, a lot of the storefront facades are a little too bulky and big,” he said. “What SBS has been great in doing is using the programs to make the stores more understated, showing the architectural detail of the buildings and the history. It makes for a cleaner (looking) block.”

Sanchez pointed to Arthur Avenue as a business district that is worth emulating.

“There are very few big awnings on Arthur Avenue, but it was just named one of America’s greatest streets. The hope is that in a few years, East Tremont can be similar”

The SBS will also discuss other services available to East Tremont businesses about avoiding environmental and sanitation and health code violations, including free walkthroughs for businesses to help identify potential problems.

“Attractive, well-designed storefronts help make neighborhoods vibrant places to live, work, and play,” said Gregg Bishop, commissioner of SBS. “We offer free resources to help community organizations undertake local storefront improvement work to benefit area residents and small businesses alike.”

Sanchez said the meeting will hopefully help build momentum towards the eventual creation of a business improvement district, or BID, in which members pool resources to help beautify and promote their area to encourage commerce.

“Eventually we want more plantings, more sanitation, more lighting and all of that, but this (grant) is step one,” Sanchez said.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 742–4584. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.

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