Ten businesses in downtown Waterville have been chosen as the grantees for the Central Maine Growth Council’s Facade and Building Improvement Grant Program.

This year’s recipients are Day’s Travel Bureau, 205 Main St.; Arnold Block LLC, 189 Main St.; Sidney H. Geller Trust, 179-177 Main St.; OPA, 139 Main St.; Holy Cannoli, 72 Main St.; MGH Realty Co. LLC, 59 Main St.; Paragon Shop, 36 Main St.; 18 Below, 18 Silver St.; Sidney H. Geller Trust, 5-3 Silver St.; and North River Company, 6 Water St.

The program, which was established by the growth council in 2019, encourages new and existing property owners and businesses to invest in their commercial storefronts while maintaining the historic integrity of the buildings.

During its first year, the program garnered more than $290,000 worth of new investment in downtown Waterville.

This year’s grant cycle will stimulate more than $1.8 million in direct investments in downtown storefronts and facades, according to Garvan Donegan, director of planning and economic development for the growth council.

The grant program is funded by Colby College and the Bill and Joan Alfond Foundation and provides reimbursement of up to 50% of the total estimated project budget.

“Block by block, property by property, downtown Waterville is transforming into a vibrant, thriving place …,” Joy McKenna, a member of the grant program’s advisory committee, said in a news release. “Each of these applicants is contributing to a powerful, collective visual and economic impact that is critically important to Waterville’s revitalization … We are very grateful for the opportunity to assist our local business and property owners in their façade renovation efforts.”

Grant recipients may install new awnings and signage, repoint brick, and remove inappropriate, non-historical alterations to a building’s exterior.
Projects are on track to begin this spring and wrap up in October, despite the growing obstacles brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We were fortunate to offer a second funding cycle for downtown business and property owners, and we are thrilled with the quality of the applications we received, particularly within the context of COVID-19,” Donegan said in a news release. “Despite the unprecedented hardships faced by Main Street businesses and property owners, they maintain an admirable commitment to investing in downtown Waterville. Their facade projects create a strong foundation from which we can rebuild a thriving economy.”
Donegan said the council discussed the projects and the coronavirus with applicants during its workshop online on March 19.
“We discussed project timelines and project management with grantees within the context of COVID-19,” Donegan said in an email Tuesday. “We emphasized the importance of adhering to good project management procedures, recommended grantees double their expected timelines (like any project) and encouraged close communication with CMGC throughout the process.”
Donegan said the council will work closely with recipients in a “flexible and thoughtful manner” to complete the projects.

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