Downtown Washington Inc.

The Historic Washington Foundation, a sister organization to Downtown Washington Inc., has been approved for $325,000 in Neighborhood Assistance Program tax credits for its low-interest facade improvement loan program.

The group is approved to accept donations and in turn offer 70 percent of that donation back to the donor as a state tax credit.

These tax credits are part of $7.3 million being awarded by the Department of Economic Development to nonprofits across Missouri for community development projects.

“This is such great news,” said Bridgette Kelch, Downtown Washington Inc. executive director. “We have been working on our application for the tax credits for over two years. Now, it’s time to sell the credits.”

The credits will benefit the group’s low-interest façade improvement revolving loan program, which offers financing for façade improvements, as well as hands-on classes for historic building maintenance.

“The program is being created to provide an incentive for property owners to rehabilitate, reuse or enhance buildings in the downtown district, specifically those buildings that are vacant or have underutilized upper-floor space,” Kelch said.

The long-term goal, she said, is to continue to attract new investors, businesses and residents to Downtown Washington.

This is the fourth time the downtown group has received NAP tax credits which helped with the post office renovation at Lafayette and Second streets and the Farmers’ Market.

Review Process

Kelch said the funds received will be subject to an application process and restricted to projects that adhere to the design guidelines adopted by the city of Washington and all other applicable ordinances.

“To ensure that these renovations and improvements are to the highest standards and contribute to the overall aesthetics of Downtown Washington, we will be requiring inspections throughout the term of the loan,” she said. “Each loan will be subject to a strict repayment schedule and will be administered by two local bank loan officers. So these loans also will comply with current banking standards.”

Projects must meet all of the following criteria to be considered for this loan: commercial or multi-use; exterior renovations only; and be located in the NAP boundaries (Missouri River to Ninth Street; Market Street to High Street).

Kelch said potential projects may include, but are not limited to, reinstalling bricked-in or otherwise obscured windows; replacing ill-fitting and/or noncompliant replacement windows; removing inappropriate materials; repointing brick; repainting currently painted brick; restoration of historic storefronts; and updating or adding signage and awnings.

Professional fees for architects, engineers, contractors and permit fees also could be funded through the loan.

There are certain things the loan is not allowed to be used for, which include funding for property acquisition, existing debt, building demolition or legal fees.

Kelch said the loans will be available to both business owners and property owners. The loans can be for 80 percent of the project cost with a maximum loan of $100,000 for five years at 1 percent interest.

Business owners who do not own their buildings will be required to obtain written permission from the property owner to complete the façade improvements.

For more information on the loan program, people can call Kelch at 636-239-1743.