Changes coming to the downtown facade improvement program

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Karrun Farmaha

WmDDA members discussing the downtown facade improvement program during a WmDDA meeting on March 19, at the Williamston City Hall.

The Williamston Downtown Development Authority (WmDDA) plan to restate the way downtown business owners can improve their building’s façade–the face of a building.

The WmDDA began in 1995 its Facade Improvement Program to help stimulate and finance the improvement of downtown building facades to create and maintain the attractiveness of the downtown area, because of its importance to the economy of Williamston. The program keeps the historical character of the city, as well as improve other buildings.

Corey Schmidt, the city manager, said that the WmDDA has discussed amending the improvement plan for the last few months. The way the program is now, an applicant could apply for up to 50 percent of improvements to be financed to a maximum of $2,000 per side of a one-story building. The amendment would change the program so that it is a certain dollar amount per foot of the building, instead of a set dollar amount.

“The reason why we went to that model was to try and make the program a little bit more equitable,” said Schmidt. “If you had a 20-foot-wide building, compared to a 40-foot-wide building, this new program takes into account those variances. The old program was $2000, whether it was 20 feet or 40 feet. We are hoping this will make the program more equitable and more attractive to the business community.”

Attorney John Gormley further explained to the WmDDA the changes to the improvement plan.

“This whole formula is designed to say how much we will buy the easement for on a per side basis,” said Gormley. “Keller’s Plaza got as much for that great, big, long building as the Masonic Temple on a side for their frontage. That’s what really started this discussion.”

Tammy Gilroy, the mayor of Williamston, as the WmDDA approved the motion said “I think we have done our due diligence to get a good document here.”

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