Incentivizing Building Improvements in South Hill

The Town of South Hill offers a variety of business incentives to foster an attractive climate for local businesses and spur economic growth. Two of these incentive programs—the Façade Improvement Program and the Building Up-Fit Grant—recently received additional support from a $50,000 Virginia Statewide Business District Resurgence Grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

The South Hill Façade Improvement Program focuses on building exteriors, while the Building Up-fit Grant helps with interior spaces. Both programs are a collaborative effort between the Town and local building and business owners. The Town matches a business or property owner’s funds dollar-for-dollar for qualifying expenditures up to $5,000 for the Façade Improvement Program and $10,000 for the Building Up-Fit Grant. The Façade Improvement Program supports relatively permanent façade improvements to enhance the appearance of commercial buildings downtown (regardless of the building’s business use). Examples of qualifying expenditures include paint, lighting, doors and windows, and blank awnings with no signage. The Building Up-Fit Grant supports improvements, renovations, and/or additions to interior spaces. Eligible expenditures include mechanical, electrical, and/or plumbing improvements, HVAC, flooring, interior lighting, accessibility compliance, and utility upgrades. Both incentive programs disperse funds on a first come, first serve basis and may be used in conjunction with one another.

In 2022, with the support of the Resurgence Grant, the Town’s expanded Façade Improvement and Building Up-Fit Grant programs dispersed more than $110,000 in grants and 10 buildings in the historic downtown were improved. The Resurgence Grant funds supported the existing programs by covering the small business or property owners’ match requirement; thus, mitigating a barrier to entry and reinvigorating the incentive program post-COVID. The types of improvements made included painting and replacing exterior doors, windows, awnings, lighting, porches, and decks, along with replacing sidewalks and HVAC systems. One building was able to install updated kitchen equipment including a hood system that was required to continue operation. A $50,000 investment by the state through the Resurgence funds were leveraged with additional public and private funds totaling more than $700,000, for an return on investment of more than $14 to $1.

Applications for fiscal year 2024 Virginia Business District Resurgence Grants will open on February 1, 2023. Check out the VMS Grant Manual and the How-to-Apply Webinar for additional information about this grant opportunity.

Photo Credits: Town of South Hill