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Grant Allows Downtown Raleigh Property Owners To Renovate Building Fronts

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The city of Raleigh is offering grants to downtown private property owners as an incentive for them to clean up the fronts of buildings. The grant is part of the city's plan to get property owners to jump into downtown development at a time when the city is digging in too.

For more than a decade, the city has had a grant program, but with multi-million dollar downtown projects, such as the $212 million convention center and hotel, the Raleigh City Council recently increased the amount property owners would receive from $1,500 to $10,000.

Greg Hatem was the first to apply for, and receive a new City of Raleigh Façade grant. After a massive renovation project on the old Raleigh Times building on Hargett Street, the front looks very similar to the way it did so many years ago. "People notice it now," Hatem said.

Hatem now lives on the top floor of his restored building. He said he will open a bar and barber shop below this fall.

Several other projects are undergoing the transformation now. Some have already been completed.

"Where the character is in the downtown is in these smaller buildings, so we think it's important to dress them up and get them improved to knit together all of these larger projects," said Dan Douglas, of the Raleigh Urban Design Center.

Even with his $500,000 investment on East Hargett, he said the city grant made him think more creatively.

"The grant helped us understand to the level we were going to restore the forefront," Hatem said. "We were so glad it was there because otherwise we would probably have done something not quite as nice and we would have regretted that."

The city will spend about $340,000 on this program. The $10,000 grants are only temporary. When the big projects are completed in downtown, the grants revert back to $1,500.


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