Downtown grant coming to Macomb

Steven Barnum , News editor

The Macomb City Council will be continuing ongoing discussions about how downtown businesses can receive money for improvements.

A renovation grant offers financial help to downtown businesses who are looking to make alterations to their building and meet all of the criteria. The grant’s mission is to encourage entrepreneurs to remain in Macomb and to enhance the physical appearance of their business. Downtown Development Director Kristin Terry is working on a second draft of the application.

To clear up confusion and to make it a simpler process, Terry reduced the length of the application form. She also reiterated that the city will receive the applications on a first-come, first-serve basis. In a more impactful and specific change, the new proposal would require applicants to meet with the Preservation Committee before the city awards them with the grant.

 Additionally, the grant may offer tax exemptions to those who are eligible. As of now, the proposal states that the eligibility would exist for three years, but not for everyone. Several aldermen pointed out that it could lead to confusion if it comes to entities like Goodwill or the Cub Scouts.

“It looks like it’s a big grey area,” Alderman-at-Large Dennis Moon said. “It looks to me that we should be more specific about non-profits being eligible.”

City Attorney Kristen Petrie says that she doesn’t seek to prevent any business who is eligible, suggesting that the city will revise the application before its next discussion next Monday. As for Terry, she believes that the potential for tax exemptions is an incentive that would entice local business owners.

“It would make it easier to market this grant,” Terry said. “I would rather see this grant go to someone that’s willing to invest in the downtown.”

If the council approves the changes, the application process will begin in December and the city will select a winner in the spring of 2020. Terry will meet with downtown businesses that are interested in the grant about their improvement plans next month.

The city is also in the process of approving accommodations for “Cold Brew House.” Tracey DeBold, who also owns Sweet Shack 2.0, is not planning on making any major renovations to the inside or outside of the structure. She would like concrete poured along the side of the building in order to provide a driveup coffee shop. The council is considering putting a March 31 deadline on the project’s completion. During times of inclement weather, the city of Macomb would be responsible for snow removal in the parking lot, according to Petrie.

Petrie said that it’s a standard practice that the city administrator, Dean Torreson, would approve minor changes to the property. Signage doesn’t appear to be a problem.

“They have plans to put up a poll sign. If they change their mind and want to put something on the building, then we will revisit this and present it to the council,” Torreson said.

“They have no plans to make significant alterations.”