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Decatur Downtown Development Authority approves facade improvement grant awards

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Decatur Downtown Development Authority approves facade improvement grant awards

The Iberian Pig on Sycamore Street is one of several businesses selected to receive a facade improvement grant. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — The Decatur Downtown Development Authority approved 13 grant requests for the commercial facade improvement grant program.

The board approved the recipients with a 6-1 vote. Board member Darren Comer abstained from the vote as he is an owner of the Marlay House. The Marlay House applied for and received a $10,000 grant for power washing, priming, painting and caulking, and doors for the main restaurant.

“As a person that has a business interest in one of the businesses here, I’m going to recuse myself from any discussion or votes on any actions,” Comer said.

The board previously allocated $100,000 to the new initiative to support projects focused on maintaining and beautifying storefronts and facades. There will be opportunities to apply quarterly. The application will open again on April 1.

“The grants cover 75% of the cost of any approved project, with a minimum contribution from the DDA of $2,500 and a maximum of $10,000,” Business Development Manager Shirley Baylis wrote in a memo. “Additionally, a limited number of $1,000 microgrants will be made available for simple tasks.”

The first round of grant requests totaled $73,155.87.

Here is the full list of grant recipients:

– Float Atlanta, 111 Clairemont Avenue

Approved for a black awning with the business logo and a sign above it saying FLOAT that is backlit. Requested Amount: $4,987.80, Proposed Approval Amount: $4,987.80.

– Little Shop of Stories, 133 East Court Square

Approved for lighting and installation. Requested Amount: $4,875.00, Proposed Approval Amount: $4,875.00.

– Rebel Teahouse, 225 E. Ponce de Leon Avenue, Ste. #110

Approved for installation of power-assisted front door to improve handicap accessibility and allow easier access/egress for those with disabilities. Requested Amount: $6,000.00, Proposed Approval Amount: $5,000.00.

– Siam Thai Restaurant, 123 Sycamore Street

Approved for mural project. Recommend consulting with DAA for list of muralist to assure work is correct. Requested Amount: $10,000.00, Proposed Approval Amount: $5,000.00.

– Spot for Dogs, 318 E. Howard Avenue

Approved for cost downspouts and power washing only. Requested Amount: $10,000.00, Proposed Approval Amount: $5,000.00.

– Sushi Avenue on the Square, 131 Sycamore Street

Approved for lighting, painting materials and labor, and lighting installation. Must apply for sign permit before installation of new signage. Requested Amount: $5,625.00, Proposed Approval Amount: $5,625.00.

– Tacqueria del Sol, 359 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue

Approved gutters and downspouts. Provide detailed line item cost estimate for the gutters and downspout. Requested Amount: $10,000.00, Proposed Approval Amount: $5,000.00

– The Deer & The Dove, 155 sycamore Street

Approved for pressure washing, paint front facade trim/replace wood rot, fix leak in front. Requested Amount: $5,000.00, Proposed Approval Amount: $3,500.00.

– The Iberian Pig, 121 Sycamore Street

Approved for storefront rotted wood replacement including cove base, trim, and windows. Requested Amount: $10,000.00, Proposed Approval Amount: $10,000.00.

– The Marlay House, 426 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue

Approved the power washing, priming, painting and caulking, and doors for the main restaurant. Requested Amount: $10,000.00, Proposed Approval Amount: $10,000.00.

– Victory Sandwich Shop, 340 Church Street

Approved all requested work, but mortar must match existing mortar. Business owner must submit list specified type of materials used for project prior to starting the project. Requested Amount: $10,000.00, Proposed Approval Amount: $10,000.00.

– Decatur City Jewelers, 117 Clairemont Avenue

Approved for front window replacement. Requested Amount: $675.00, Proposed Approval Amount: $675.00 micro grant

Applications opened in February and were open for 21 days. The city received 21 applications. The review committee evaluated the applications to determine if the projects met the qualifications of the grant program.

“We had some that a portion of their projects qualified, but a portion did not,” Decatur Development Manager Baylis said during the DDA meeting. “We based our amounts on what was approved and what qualified as part of that.”

The 13 businesses chosen met the eligibility requirements and scope of projects for the grant program. Eligible projects included masonry repairs, storefront reconstruction, exterior painting, awnings, canopies, window and door repairs, permanent exterior lighting, repairing gutters and roofs, designing signs, decking and stairs and improving outdoor seating areas and landscaping.

The projects have to begin within six months and must be completed within 18 months, which is consistent with the city’s permitting process, Baylis said.

In other business, Baylis gave an update on the city’s shuttle to Publix. Following the closure of Baby Kroger, the DDA and the city partnered with Let’s Ride Atlanta to launch a 90-day pilot program of a shuttle service to transport individuals from downtown Decatur to the Publix at Sam’s Crossing Village.

The pilot program will end on April 18.

Let’s Ride Atlanta currently offers free rides within a one-to-three-mile radius in Atlanta. The new service will provide drivers and two electric vehicles for three to four people in downtown Decatur.

There are multiple pick-up and drop-off locations at:

– 254 W. Ponce de Leon Ave.

– 230 E. Ponce de Leon Ave.

– 130 Clairemont Ave.

– Decatur First Baptist Church, 308 Clairemont Ave.

– West Trinity Place at Commerce Drive

– Publix Super Market at Sam’s Crossing Village, 2720 E. Ponce de Leon Ave.

On-demand rides can be requested at letsrideatlanta.com or by texting 404-480-5216 with your name, location and desired final destination. Let’s Ride Atlanta will respond with the pick-up details.

Let’s Ride Atlanta tracked ridership data throughout the first 30 days of the pilot program.

“We’ve gotten amazing feedback from the community about how great it is, how awesome they’ve been if someone has a wheelchair or if they had a walker, they’ve been very supportive in helping with that,” Baylis said.

She added that the city is using the data to look at a longer term solution to providing a shuttle, which is part of the city’s strategic plan.

Over the first 30 days of the program, Let’s Ride had 145 requested rides and 113 one-way passenger trips. Monday and Wednesday were their highest ride days. The shuttle hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. but the highest ride hours were between 10 a.m. to noon.

Of the five pickup locations, 254 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., at the corner of Ponce Place and West Ponce de Leon Avenue, isn’t getting much traction.

“It just hasn’t taken off down there, but the other areas are doing really well,” Baylis said.

The city is looking to have a shuttle service that will operate long term, but the city needs a more sustainable option in terms of funding.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the city operated the GO60+ shuttle that was “for Oakhurst neighborhood residents age 60 and older to come to downtown Decatur. The shuttle is a partnership between the Decatur Downtown Development Authority, Decatur Community and Economic Development, and Decatur Active Living,” according to the city’s website.

Planning and Economic Development Director Angela Threadgill said the city is looking to restart that program and expand it to other parts of the community beyond just seniors.

“That’s something that we are presently looking into, because we want something that is sustainable in terms of funding,” Threadgill said. “We already have the buses, one of which is ADA accessible. We have the drivers that would like to restart the Go 60 Plus shuttle. We’re looking at the scheduling based on the data that we receive. We’re also looking at potential routes.”

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