New city SBIF grants available


by BRIAN NADIG

The city Department of Planning and Development recently announced that a new round of Small Business Improvement Fund Program grants will be available in the Jefferson Park and Portage Park TIF districts. A total of $500,000 is being allocated to each district, which are funded through property taxes and which are intended to facilitate infrastructure improvements.

A $150,000 grant from the City of Chicago in 2012 allowed City Newsstand owner Joe Angelastri to renovate his Six Corners business with the addition of a cafe to the magazine shop, 4018 N. Cicero Ave.

"We gutted it all out and started from scratch," Angelastri said. "The cafe already has doubled in sales from last year, so it is going strong."

The 36-year-old business moved to a neighboring storefront during construction.

Angelastri is one of hundreds of business and commercial property owners who have taken advantage of the city’s 14-year-old SBIF program, which is available in many of the city’s tax increment financing districts.

About 25 people attended a March 19 workshop to learn about the application process. Applications are due by April 18, and if the amount of funds requested by applicants in a district exceeds $500,000, a priority list will be created through a drawing.

The grant is paid in the form of a rebate after the project is completed.

Jake Stern of SomerCor 504 Inc., which administers the program, said that the rebates cover 25 percent to 75 percent of eligible expenses up to a maximum amount per property. Ineligible businesses include fast-food chains, currency exchanges, payday loan stores, liquor stores, taverns and palm readers.

When Angelastri applied for his grant, the maximum grant for a single-storefront occupant was $150,000, but that has since been reduced to $100,000. Grants of up to $150,000 are available for industrial companies with a maximum 100 full-time employees and up to $250,000 for owners of multi-tenant buildings.

Eligible expenses include new roofs, signs, facades, floors, heating and cooling systems, environmental remediation and handicapped accessibility improvements. Grants also can be used to pay for acquisition of a vacant lot that a business will use for expansion or for a parking lot.

SomerCor representative Joe Lewis said that applicants are expected to follow design guidelines for facade improvements, such as restoring the original look of the building. "It is essentially a do no harm rule," he said.

The purchase of furniture and other portable items are not eligible for a grant.

The Jefferson Park TIF District is located primarily along Milwaukee Avenue between the Kennedy Expressway and Montrose Avenue and along Lawrence Avenue between Linder Avenue and the Kennedy. The Portage Park TIF District is located primarily along Milwaukee between Montrose and Addison Street and along Irving Park Road between Long Avenue and Kolmar Avenue.

The Jefferson Park district was part of a SBIF pilot program in 2000.

For more information, call SomerCor at 312-360-3300 or visit www.somercor.com.


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