EAST CHICAGO | The City Council approved a resolution to establish a facade, sign and awning grant program for the North Harbor Business District.
The resolution defines the area as the 3700 through 4000 blocks of Main Street and the 2200 through 2300 blocks of Broadway Street in East Chicago's Indiana Harbor section.
The resolution, sponsored by Mayor Anthony Copeland, states that the appearance of downtown structures will play a big part in a renewal effort underway in that part of the city. Many structures there have maintenance and rehabilitation needs.
The program allows grants to be awarded to building owners in the North Harbor Business District at up to 80 percent of the total cost of a qualified facade rehabilitation, repair or restoration project, with a maximum award of $25,000.
Grant recipients will have to first provide a 20 percent match before grant funds will be received.
An annual budget of $150,000 was established for the program.
The resolution establishes an intergovernmental agreement between the Economic Development Commission and the Board of Public Works to allow for gaming funds appropriated for Board of Public Works contractual services to be used to administer the grant program.
First District Councilman Adrian Santos said he considers the grant program to be the final phase of the city's North Harbor development efforts.
"You go down Main Street or in the North Harbor, the buildings are solid, but the front is just so outdated," he said.
Santos said he hopes the results of the grant program will encourage people to buy and invest in the area.
"Now we've got the streets done," he said. "We got the sidewalks. We got the ornamental street lightings. Now you've got to start working on the actual business storefront."