Business and property owners in Gardiner’s historic downtown district might have the chance to qualify for federal funds to help pay for improvements to their building exteriors.

The Gardiner City Council will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Wednesday and consider approving an application for Community Development Block Grant Microenterprise Grant Facade Program funds.

Under the program, building owners and business owners — with their landlord’s approval — would be able to seek funding up to $25,000 to match their own investment to help pay for restoration work to doors, windows and trim; awnings; removal of modernization efforts or nonhistoric additions; accessibility improvements; and signs, among other things. All of the work must take place in the historic district and all of it would have to be completed by November 1, 2017.

“Gardiner is not alone in the struggle to revitalize its downtown,” Robert Abbey said.

Abbey is a co-chairman of Gardiner Main Street’s Streetscape Team, which has been measuring interest in the program. Gardiner Main Street has developed guidelines for the facade program in collaboration with the Gardiner city staff.

Most downtown buildings are more than 100 years old, and their upkeep can be challenging. Nearly a dozen people have expressed interest, and their projects range from small to substantial, he said. By one estimate, those projects could total more than $300,000.

“We’ve had some good years, except for the fire, and there is a lot of support (for the downtown) from City Hall and Gardiner Main Street,” Abbey said.

In July 2015, fire broke out in an apartment at 235 Water St. The remains of that building were demolished in late 2015. Other buildings were damaged in fire, but they remain standing.

“Anything we can do to help a landlord put a business on the ground floor is a good leg up,” Abbey said.

The program that Gardiner Main Street developed has been modeled after successful programs in other cities. The city is expected to ask for $150,000. The program calls for setting aside 10 percent of that amount for architectural design support.

“We are setting a $25,000 cap per round of funding,” Gardiner Main Street Director Patrick Wright said. If any money is left for a second round of funding, the most any single applicant could ask for in all rounds is $50,000.

“It’s a balance,” he said. “We want to make sure the money is spread around, but we want to make the awards significant enough so that the projects would have an impact on specific buildings.”

Because the program is slated for the historic district, the Gardiner Historic Preservation Commission is expected to review project proposals.

In other business on its agenda, the City Council is expected to:

• Consider applying for a SAFER grant to hire additional firefighters,

• Hold a public hearing and first reading of a single-lot zoning change to the Gardiner Land Use Ordinance for 97 Libby Hill Road,

• Consider a street paving capital plan that outlines paving and street maintenance priorities,

• Consider selling foreclosed properties back to previous owners, and

• Consider sewer abatement requests.

The council plans to meet at 5 p.m. in council chambers at 6 Church St. The agenda starts with three executive sessions that are not open to the public.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ