ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – Twelve downtown businesses are renovating the outside of their buildings thanks to facade grants by both the state of Tennessee and the city of Elizabethton.
The Elizabethton local facade rehabilitation grant program designated $25,000 for downtown businesses with a 50% match of a $4,000 reimbursement.
“This comes from our City Council and it’s great to see our council prioritize downtown saying we know that we want our downtown to grow and to be a vibrant, active downtown and so we want to help our property owners and our business owners with those improvements,” said Courtney Bean, Main Street director for the City of Elizabethton.
Some of the projects include painting, window replacements, and removing fake facades. Bean said the antique store The Peddler’s Cart found an old brick archway when removing a fake facade.
“It’s great to encourage our businesses to go back to the historical preservation, but also just to improve their facades, which is what we want to see,” said Bean.
The Downtown Improvement Grant comes from the City of Elizabethton courtesy of Tennessee’s Economic and Community Development Department. They designated $150,000 to give downtown businesses with a 75% match of up to $40,000.
Bean said the project improvements made with this grant are similar.
August Muse and the Appalachian Irish Dance Company are downtown businesses that share the same entrance. Their facades are being repaired by this grant.
“Right now there’s only one entrance in order to go to both businesses,” said Bean. “But, historically it had two entrances and so they’re restoring it back to the way that it was and creating a fresh new facade.”
Kent Edens, property owner of the Coffee Company, bought the building in November of 2020.
“It’s actually a really nice building because I grew up in this building, when I was a child that used to be a vintage clothing store long before it was the Coffee Company,” said Edens. “And, so I was very good friends of the family who once owned it. So, I got the opportunity to buy, it’s kind of like coming home.”
Edens has already used the grant to renovate doors to the building.
“So I decided that I was going to put some additional doors in the back along with updating the doors and the front because you needed to get them up to code, said Edens. “So, I’m putting some co-working spaces upstairs, so I needed additional entries in the back.”
Edens said he plans on re-staining the existing woodwork that’s in front of the Coffee Company as well. He believes these improvement projects are a great way to revitalize Elizabethton’s downtown.
“I grew up here and my grandparents were both masons,” said Edens. “They built a lot of the buildings down here. So, to be a part of the revitalization through facade grants and any of the updates in Elizabethton is just quite exciting. It’s a little bit of a legacy.”
Bean said that these facade projects encourage other downtown businesses to revitalize their buildings as well.
“What’s neat is that these facade programs have spurred other businesses to also improve their spaces even without the grant funds,” said Bean. “So, we’re just seeing everyone really coming together to elevate their space, to grow our downtown.”
The Downtown Improvement Grant facade projects for this fiscal year will be completed by the end of June. The projects in the local grant program will be done by the end of this week.
The City of Elizabethton will open applications for next year’s (2023-2024 fiscal year) local facade grants in the late summer or early fall.