CHARLESTON, W.Va.--Commercial ventures already are taking advantage of higher caps on a grant program meant to help businesses spruce up their building facades, the East End Main Street board of directors were told Wednesday.
Charleston Councilwoman Mary Beth Hoover, who leads East End Main Street's design committee, said a $40,000 grant has been awarded to Pison Development for work on the Kyle Furniture building on Smith Street.
"As you can see, it's a major investment," she said, referring to the $1.8 million project to turn the Kyle Furniture building into condominiums.
The grant represents the highest amount that could be given for that project. The new grant limits are $20,000 per building, or $5,000 per street address, whichever is greater.
Because the Kyle Furniture project is actually two separate (but conjoined) buildings, it was eligible for $40,000.
"It's really going to look sharp," East End Main Street Director Ric Cavender said of the facade improvements.
Pison also will use windows that reflect the historic nature of the building as part of the project, Cavender said.
"It's a make-or-break thing on a building like that," said board member and Charleston Neighborhood Planner Lori Brannon, referring to the windows.
The Charleston Urban Renewal Authority approved the higher grant limits in October at Cavender's request. Previously, the limit was $5,000, which Cavender said provided little help to larger buildings.
The authority also mandated that the program be uniform across all urban renewal districts. At the time, Charleston had two programs -- one administered by West Side Main Street and one by East End Main Street. Both are funded with money from the authority, but each had its own application process.
Among the East End businesses to have made use of the program since it began in 2008 are Little India, the Empty Glass and Frutcake.
In other business, the board:
* Received a report concerning East End Main Street's HallowEast event in October.
Brannon said 916 people registered for the Run Like Hell 5K, and thousands attended the pub crawl following that event.
"We got nothing but positive feedback," she said. "We had a fair amount of people come from well out of town to participate."