A Downtown Facade Grant Program Being Considered by Rocky Mount City Council

Too many Boarded up-Paint Peeling Buildings

Believe me, this is an important step when talking about saving Main Street. Programs across the country, regardless of what they are called, that have focused on the restoration and renovation of the facades of their commercial Main Street buildings, have been successful in attracting business and downtown life.  After spending some time talking with our new Director of Developmental Services, William Deaton, I can tell you that we have a qualified, enthusiastic, smart, experienced batter in the batter box who is already swinging. In case you need proof of the need to address broken glass, boarded fronts, peeling paint and critical safety problems, here are but a few photographs I have to illustrate the need for this facade program

Let’s Fix All the Broken Glass

The range of work generally included in these facade programs relates to masonry repairs and pointing; façade painting, repair, reconstruction or replacement of historic features; awnings or canopies; signage and exterior lighting; gutters and downspouts; handicap accessibility; and window and door repair or replacement. Even simple changes such as the removal of non-historic materials, repairs, or a new paint job that calls attention to the building’s original architectural details signal positive change.

A Dangerous Situation

Vegetation Growing on Facades-This can be fixed.

The sum of $5.000 has been mentioned per structure and must be spent on exterior improvements.  Grant Eligible Improvements include painting, pointing, brick, masonry, wood, metal, and stucco repair,  business signs and graphics, exterior and decorative lighting, windows, and architectural design. Obviously, the money provided will have to be thoughtfully allocated to get the most bang for the buck. I believe the city should have a list of “must firsts” that start with safety improvements that include fixing broken glass. A panel of experts should be made available for consultation on materials, historic district guidelines, and a few preservation & restoration coaches. This panel can include credentialed volunteer help.  We will need the community to support the facade program every day by coming to see what is going on, bringing coffee and donuts to a workman,  cheering the process on that is needed badly. Are you someone who could serve on a temporary panel because you have some expertise that will be needed?

The storefront is certainly a prominent feature of a downtown commercial building, but the rest of the building is related to it visually through the unity of form and detail. Storefront façade improvements should consider the entire building – window patterns on the upper floors, cornice elements, and other decorative features should be carefully considered, in addition to the storefront itself. 

When I think of Greenville, SC and their remarkable reimagining of themselves, I look at these photographs below that I took several years ago. I believe that Main Street Rocky Mount will be saved too with programs that William Denton and his team have been tasked to lead. Clap your hands and believe along with me. Come to a City Council meeting and take 3 minutes to tell them this is a great place to start and what Main Street needs.

 

 

About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her: Stephenyhoughtlin.com
This entry was posted in Preservation of Historic Commercial Buildings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to A Downtown Facade Grant Program Being Considered by Rocky Mount City Council

  1. pwarner4 says:

    Your post reminded me of Monica Fleming’s students. Do you recall her telling us that students in her preservation program worked on repairs to the Bunn home, Stonewall?

    Polly

    PS: Martha Lamm showed our Guild pictures of the interior of Bel Air. I must go see it!

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  2. susan says:

    your idea rocks! how about offering community service recognition to high school students who would be under the supervision of their teachers or local artists to paint the windows of these eye sores with a mutually agreed on theme for continuity thru out the city ( perhaps a historical theme

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    • Susan: And your idea rocks too! Thank you. I will keep you posted on the blog how this is panning out. I think my efforts on this ‘adopt a window downtown’ idea has taken wings and is strongly being considered. Your idea fits that project perfectly. Hold the thought and thanks for commenting.

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  3. Terri says:

    Love how you are a champion of revitalizing a small Southern city that many families still hold dear even if from another town or state. I get excited for Rmt everytime I read one of your blog posts. Cheering you all on from Massachusetts.

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    • I hope one day you will come back and have lunch with me. Afterward, we will go out to play and ride our tricycles around and see what we can see. Thanks for your cheerleading.

      g and ride around on our tricycles and see what we can see.

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  4. Rodd says:

    A great first step in saving downtown buildings. A second step could be providing information and applications (and technical assistance to applicants) for additional financial resources from state and federal funds available to save America’s deteriorating “main streets”.

    Perhaps the local banks may want to provide “special” loans to help speed up the process. And then there is money to be collected from back taxes on the buildings and fines for code violations. This would create an additional pot of money to aid in the recovery of Main Street–as long as the funds are collected and slated for this specific use.

    These are not new ideas–they have been implemented in numerous cities around the country. The cities of Savannah, Georgia, Ann Arbor, Michigan and South Boston, Virginia are EXTRAORDINARY examples of city officials and the community working together.

    That said, for this to work in Rocky Mount, the community must stop the divisive FAUX racial war of words.

    Hey City Council and Mr. Mayor–the tax payers are fed up with your ineffectiveness and SOAP OPERA leadership style . Have some self respect and clean up your act along with Main Street.

    Rodd

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  5. Tom Betts says:

    The Grant needs to be at least $10,000.

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