Local businesses encouraged to apply for facade-improvement grants in these three "micro-districts"

What’s happening: Business owners in three “micro-districts” along and near the Gratiot Avenue corridor are invited to begin applying for more than $600,000 in facade-improvement grants as part of the Strategic Neighborhood Fund (SNF) initiative happening in the area. After years of planning and community outreach sessions, SNF-related investments and improvements in the area are beginning in earnest this spring.

Who’s eligible: Existing, non-chain businesses are being encouraged to apply early for the grants, which are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Businesses can receive up to $35,000 in grants to improve their storefronts if located within three “micro-districts,” which include Gratiot/Liberal, Gratiot/McNichols, and Houston-Whittier/Kelly.

Maps, eligibility requirements, and applications are available online.

Big picture: The facade-improvement grants come as part of the Gratiot/7 Mile Strategic Neighborhood Fund initiative, which itself is part of a larger SNF effort to revitalize 10 strategically located neighborhoods from throughout the city. Other target areas include Livernois-McNichols, Islandview/Villages, Campau/Banglatown, and more.

More planned: Other SNF projects happening soon in the Gratiot/7 Mile target area include the renovation of three vacant duplexes on Mapleridge Street, just west of Gratiot, through a partnership with the City’s Housing & Revitalization Department and the Osborn Neighborhood Alliance. A commercial corridor beautification project will paint five murals this spring and summer, this following the already completed mural on the side of Detroit K-9 Pet Supplies on Gratiot Avenue.

More than $5 million in public and philanthropic funding has been secured for strategic improvements in the area through the SNF, and other local projects, like the $1.8 million renovation of Heilmann Memorial Playfield, will begin next year.

What they’re saying: “PDD (Detroit’s Planning & Development Department) puts residents in charge of helping us guide the future of their neighborhoods,” Antoine Bryant, director of PDD, says in a statement. “Residents will soon start to see their guidance and participation pay off as we begin to roll out these improvements, and more is on the way.”

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.