About the Grant Program

The goal of the Small Business Façade Improvement and Repair Program is to improve the aesthetic of areas of downtown that face challenges associated with vacant and underutilized properties. Research indicates that exterior improvements to buildings lead to increased economic vitality for businesses in that commercial area, along with increased foot traffic and public safety.

This grant program is structured as a rebate program wherein business and property owners receive reimbursement for up to 50% of the cost of a project, awarding up to $2,500 in matching funds for completed work.

Eligible Applicants

Include: Any building owner or tenant of a commercial or industrial building (Ratepayer) in good standing within the boundary of the (BID) is eligible to apply. All applications from building tenants require the signature and approval of the building owner. All interested applicants must first request, and participate in a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) assessment of their property or façade by the DSP. CPTED assessments are available through the DSP free of charge to BID Ratepayers and are performed by CPTED Certified Downtown Ambassadors.

Eligible Improvements

Include: Any improvement to primary front-facing commercial facades is eligible, such as attached signage, building entrances, doors, windows, awning, brick, stone, tuckpointing wood, or other building surfaces material. Additionally, flexibility will be given for façade improvements that incorporate design elements to prevent crime (e.g. nighttime lighting, windows looking onto streets and parking lots, etc.), repair damage to facades, and COVID-19 adaptations (example: signage, attached awning, walk-up service window, outdoor seating structures, etc.). Street-facing murals/public art on commercial facades are eligible on a case-by-case basis. Permitting fees for this work, when required, are also eligible expenses for matching grants.

Ineligible Improvements

Include: Site improvements such as parking lots, paving, street trees, detached signage, fencing and railings, and improved pedestrian amenities including sidewalks, or benches are ineligible. Roof repairs and new construction projects are also ineligible.

In some cases, these types of improvements can be counted as the building or business owners match, but cannot be covered by the grant itself. Grants cannot be used retroactively for building improvements already completed. While generally intended for commercial properties that are not solely rental apartments, these properties may be eligible with additional considerations.

All related construction and improvements to be supported by the program must occur after the grant has been approved and prior to reimbursement.

Eligible Boundary

The currently assessed boundary of the Downtown Spokane Business Improvement District as outlined in the City of Spokane Municipal Code, Section 04.31.020 BID Boundaries.

BID Boundaries Map

Registered Historic Buildings

Buildings registered with the Spokane Historic Preservation Office are eligible for the "Historic Preservation Façade Improvement Grant" through the City of Spokane. Find more details about the grant by clicking below. Applications for this grant close on May 6, 2023.

Applicants of the Downtown Spokane Façade Improvement Grant are allowed and encouraged to also apply to the Historic Preservation Façade Improvement Grant with no detriment to the consideration of your application to Downtown Spokane.

Spokane Historic Preservation Office

Completed Application

A completed application form is required from each applicant (building owner or tenant) requesting a façade grant. The application must be returned to DSP electronically through the online portal on this page (see the "Apply for the Grant" box), along with the required supplementary application documents, which include:

  1. Statement of reason: a brief summary of the project the grant will support.
  2. A copy of the completed CPTED report performed by an accredited Downtown Ambassador.
  3. Estimates from the vendor, contractor or business likely to do the façade improvements or repairs.
  4. Detailed project budget outlining all costs to complete the work, financing/sources of funds to complete the project, and timeline for improvements in a single document.
  5. Drawings and/or description of the improvements to be completed (if available).
  6. Photos of the building in jpeg format (please, no PDFs).

If you intend to repair or replace a portion of your property that has been damaged as a result of vandalism, you will be asked to provide the police report number you were given by Spokane Police Department in reporting the crime. Improvements/repairs to vandalized property that have not been reported to SPD will not be considered for grant funding.

Selection Process

The goal of the façade grant program is to improve the aesthetic of areas of downtown that face challenges associated with vacant and underutilized properties. An independent project review panel consisting of DSP staff, City of Spokane staff and BID and DSP Board members will review applications on a monthly basis and make award decisions. Prioritization is given to façade improvements based on the following accumulated criteria:

  1. Projects in developing areas of the BID;
  2. Projects that support small business retention and expansion in the BID.
  3. Projects that incorporate design elements to prevent crime such as but not limited to nighttime lighting, windows looking onto streets and parking lots, etc.
  4. Priority will be given to support minority, immigrant, veteran, or women-owned enterprises.
  5. Projects in areas with high motor vehicle and pedestrian visibility.
  6. Projects with façade improvements with high quality design and/or value based on recognized professional standards or best practices.
  7. Priority will be given to projects that include both esthetic and practical/functional enhancements.
  8. Projects that offer the potential for job creation.
  9. Projects with an investment request ratio equal to or greater than 1:1 match.
  10. Projects that align with design standards established for a neighborhood, when applicable, which may include historic preservation.
  11. Projects that support existing businesses or project where new users are committed.
  12. Projects where the entire construction budget is viable (if the full project requires additional capital, those sources are identified, secured or being pursued).
  13. Projects that have a clear completion timeline and can be completed within a year.

Grant Awards

The Façade Improvement and Repair Program will reimburse up to 50% of the total project costs upon full completion of the approved renovation. The project applicant is responsible for 100% of the construction costs before requesting reimbursement. Project costs incurred before the grant award are not eligible for reimbursement, so please do not begin construction prior to applying for the program or receiving notification of award. The maximum contribution awarded per address is $2,500.

Receiving the Grant

If awarded, DSP underwrites a grant agreement for the recipient. An initial meeting with DSP and the award recipient is encouraged to ensure clear understanding of the responsibilities of all parties. The award recipient is required to give regular updates throughout the completion process. After the project is complete to satisfaction of all parties, and only upon receipt of proof of payment documentation (paid invoices and cancelled checks), the DSP will issue the matching funds.

Application Related Dates

Application Period: Once applications are open, they will remain open until the total of funds dedicated to 2023 ($30,000) is exhausted. A review panel consisting of DSP staff, City of Spokane staff, partner representative, and BID and DSP Board members will review applications on a monthly basis.

Award Announcements: Award announcements will be communicated via e-mail, phone or regular mail within 2 business days of the Panel Review Meeting in which approval was granted. Panel Review Meeting typically occurs within 2-3 weeks of application submission.

Post-Award Project Timeline: Once awarded, projects typically follow the below sequence in order to complete the project and receive the reimbursement of funds:

  1. Award communicated;
  2. Pull permits and order materials;
  3. Begin construction;
  4. Complete project
  5. Submitted reimbursement request with contractor invoices and proof of payment
  6. Grant Reimbursement Completed.