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The City of Galion announced today it will benefit from $300,000 in Downtown Revitalization funds, a sub-program of the Community Development Block Grant. The Ohio Development Services Agency received a total of 21 applications from throughout the state for the Downtown or Neighborhood revitalization grants. It funded 11 applications, totaling $4.8 million.
“The grant flows through the commissioner’s office. These are additional grant dollars that Galion has worked hard to attain,” Commissioner Doug Weisenauer said during a joint press conference on Sept. 7.
The Ohio Regional Development Corporation will administer grant projects with assistance from the City of Galion. “We’ll work with ORDC to help owners get through the process and work through any red tape,” Mayor Tom O’Leary said. He noted Galion has had past success in securing Downtown Revitalization grants. From 1995 to 2005, Galion received four of them.
Grant funding will be available to building owners within the target area on a dollar-for-dollar matching basis to be used for building improvements. Eligible projects include: Façade improvements, roof replacement, HVAC system repair or upgrade, tuck pointing, window replacement, electrical upgrades, plumbing repairs, handicap accessibility, and more. Work can be done on the upper floors as well.
Law Director Thomas Palmer noted that code work items are “things you can’t see but are incredibly important for the safety and long-term survival of the building.”
After administration and engineering costs, there will be approximately $240,000 available to building owners. With matching funds from private investment, a total of $480,000 in public and private investment will be put into Uptowne Galion.
“Our hope is to have interest that exceeds the level of funding. Then we’ll have a good case to make another application during the next grant cycle in two years,” O’Leary said. He added that while the city will not use grant funding for a project of its own, alley approaches and sidewalk repairs will be addressed next year.
O’Leary also noted the importance of Galion’s Design Review program. “Without that mechanism, you’re ineligible to apply. It ensures the projects are consistent with historic preservation standards.”
The City has been working on updating its Design Review Guidelines.
There are 70 eligible buildings within the target area, which consists of Harding Way between Union and Liberty streets, and one block north and south within that area. Galion Building Inspector Bob Johnston prepared a building inventory and issued a condition report for all of the buildings within the target area.
The city received 36 interest forms from building owners to submit with the application, which helped with the scoring criteria. The interest form was non-binding, meaning owners do not need to complete a project, or can modify the amount of investment they wish to make.
Another critical piece to the application was having a downtown organization in place. Palmer has worked with a group of citizens for more than a year to establish Experience Galion, a nonprofit corporation. It helps with marketing and promotion activities for Uptowne Galion.
“Experience Galion members helped contact property owners to solicit their interest level in this grant. Only 11 out of 22 applications were funded, so we were competitive. You don’t get there by accident,” Palmer said.
Next steps include getting a grant agreement in place with the state, and the city working with ORDC to finalize project application details. Property owners will be contacted later this fall with further information. Grant funds must be expended by December 2019.