City offers commercial building improvement grants for Jeff Park TIF District
by BRIAN NADIG
Grants of up to $100,000 for stores and $150,000 for industrial properties in the Jefferson Park Tax Increment Financing District are being offered in the latest rollout of a city program that has resulted in about $1.5 million in building improvements in the area since the early 2000s.
The funds can be used for facade improvements, environmental remediation, handicapped-accessible ramps and railings, new heating and cooling systems, structural brackets for signs, roof repairs and the purchase of adjoining land for parking or expansion.
Applications for the city’s Small Business Improvement Fund must be submitted by March 31. The grants are paid with TIF District funds, and to be eligible, properties must be in the TIF district, which runs primarily along Milwaukee Avenue between Montrose Avenue and Northwest Highway and along Lawrence Avenue between Linder Avenue and the Kennedy Expressway.
After completion of the work, applicants will receive 25 to 75 percent of their eligible expenses reimbursed, with the amount determined in part by the net worth of the property owner or a store’s annual sales.
The program is intended primarily for “ma and pa type” retail businesses and restaurants, said Jacob Stern of SomerCor 504, which administers the grant program for the city Department of Planning and Development. Businesses that are not eligible for the grants include national chains, branch banks, liquor stores, bars, nightclubs, massage parlors, currency exchanges, payday loan stores, hotels and junk yards.
The program is available in several tax increment districts in the city, and some of its biggest success stories involve vacant buildings that were in poor condition but were renovated under the program for a new business or the expansion of a neighboring store, Stern said.
About $400,000 in grant funds is available in the Jefferson Park TIF District, Stern said.
The Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce recently held a workshop at which SomerCor officials answered questions from business owners and those looking to open a new business in Jefferson Park. More information on the program can be obtained by calling the chamber at 773-736-6697 or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.