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CRA facade grants being put on hold in 2011

By Staff | Dec 16, 2010

The Community Redevelopment Agency is putting its facade grant program on hold as of Dec. 31, choosing instead to maximize all of its funds toward the newly designed Vision Plan.
The CRA Board decided to leave facade grants to their discretion following the end of the year, and will meet January 13, in a Vision Plan workshop to decide how to move forward.
Currently, Zyscovich Architects is working on the second phase of the Vision Plan, a land use and regulation analysis. The second phase was negotiated for a price tag of $66,420.
There are three facade grants still in the CRA pipeline: Papa Joe’s on Cape Coral Parkway, Big John’s Plaza and the forthcoming Chester Street Resource Center.
Board member Frank Dethlefsen worried that less than a month was not enough time to notify businesses the program was being momentarily shelved.
“The time frame being allotted to the business community … two weeks notice is really hard for those businesses at this stage,” he said.
“That was the concept behind the vision plan, to get more bag for the buck,” Board member Rich Greer said. “Now is the time to maximize the dollars with the vision plan instead of spending it outside.”
CRA Executive Director John Jacobsen said they likely will still take applications for the facade grants, but they would be deferred and the board would then decide on each individual case.
Chairman Don Heisler said it was a good time to “draw the line” on facade grants and focus solely on the Vision Plan.
“We’ll come out the other end as a better organization because of it,” Heisler said.
The board also awarded a facade grant totaling $10,337 to Rackem Billiards on Tuesday night, which owner Andrew Gray plans to use for windows, light poles and a new exterior color scheme.
Gray also said he plans on turning a portion of both the interior and exterior into a cigar bar, taking out six pool tables and using the front patio area.
Gray has owned Rackem Billiards since 1997, and stated previously he not only wants the CRA to be successful, but to have a realistic vision on how to move forward.
Heisler encouraged Gray to keep the exterior of his property clean and free of cigarette butts.
“Going forward we want to be able to say we got it cleaned up and it stayed clean,” Heisler said.