This post was authored by Curbed contributor by MJ Galbraith.
Photo credit: Zachary and Associates, Inc.
Corktown can't stop with the good news lately and it's looking like things will only get better. The owners of PJ's Lager House, the Sugar House, and seemingly every other business in Corktown gathered last night to learn how to get their hands on $950K of $3.8 million in federal grant money awarded to the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy (OTSC). Originally scheduled at Slow's, the meeting had to be moved to the Gaelic League's banquet room in order to hold everyone. There's something about the phrase free money that tends to get people's attention. Thanks to a 2009 Sen. Carl Levin earmark and the OTSC's willingness to spread the love, Corktown businesses, limited to the boundaries above, now have the chance to be awarded up to 50K or 25% of total costs toward "economically sound and sustainable developments."
The funds are available to property owners and business owners. Lessees of commercial properties are also eligible to receive the grant but they must have a five year lease so as to show that they have long term interest in the neighborhood. There are three categories for which the funds are available: pre-development costs, construction costs, and capital improvements. The grant program defines pre-development costs as architectural services, legal services, financial services, building stabilization, and environmental studies. Examples of capital improvements given were roof replacement, improved energy efficiency, HVAC work, security system installation, facade improvements, fixed equipment purchases, and "other activities upon explanation." Residential only projects are not covered under the grant program. Business owners will submit their proposal applications to Zachary and Associates who will then pitch the planned improvements to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the government agency responsible for approving the grants.
It was clear from the meeting that the OTSC is pretty eager to start doling out the cash. As one of the Zachary and Associates people put it: "The grant money is waiting for us. It's sitting in this little well, waiting for us to dip into it." Way, way back in 2009, Sen. Carl Levin earmarked $3.8 million for the OTSC's Tiger Stadium redevelopment efforts. Despite the OTSC's repeated attempts to redevelop the site, the city has shown little to no interest in doing so. With the money set to expire October 1st of 2014, the OTSC has set up the OTSC Grant Program, ensuring that Corktown businesses benefit from the grant. They continue to push the city for action on the ballpark.
· Corner Chatter [Preserve Tiger Stadium]
· OTSC Grant Program [Zachary & Associates]
· No Rental Vacancy Whatsoever in Corktown: People Turned Away Daily [Curbed Detroit]