City distributes funding to build new storefronts all around the downtown core
One of the significant ways the city of Sandy supports local businesses is through the façade improvement grant program.
The program offers what turns out to be free money for business owners willing to allow their storefronts to be upgraded according to the Sandy style.
That design style includes Cascadian or Oregon rustic architecture, with the use of stones or bricks or wood columns.
The city's Urban Renewal Agency Board last week approved the expenditure of nearly $33,000 to improve the appearances of three more storefronts, all on Proctor Boulevard - the former Ristorante Sapori Italian Restaurant, Subway Sandwich Shop and the Psychic Visions and Candles storefront.
Four other Sandy buildings are in the final stages of this year's façade improvement - work which started around June on Double Dragon Restaurant, 7-Eleven, AntFarm/Sandy Chainsaw Shop and the Frontier Building which houses The Buzz @ Bakers Barbershop and Rapid Fire Arms gun shop.
These projects are all part of the city's master plan for façade improvement, said Planning Director Tracy Brown. The program offers to pay 99 percent of the cost for projects approved by the Urban Renewal Board.
Other matching-grant projects, such as the Sandy River Brewery, receive between 20 and 70 percent match for proposals, with the small projects (under $5,000 at 20 percent) judged and awarded by the planning director and the larger projects (over $50,000 at 70 percent) decided by the Grant Review Board.
In the most recent round of bidding, the Urban Renewal Board approved Brown's recommendation for a contractor in Ketch Enterprises of Estacada, which was the contractor also responsible for improving the Cool Printing façade near Proctor Boulevard and Hoffman Avenue.
All of these projects are being completed in the second year of this program, Brown said. They follow about a dozen storefronts completed in 2010.
'We're trying to do little bits and pieces here and there (to improve different business storefronts),' Brown said. 'So now we want to start filling in (those missed earlier).'
Brown says the program will continue to fund projects to make the city look more appealing to passers-by, who might choose to stop in Sandy when they see what a nice looking town it is.
Brown said he hasn't had universal acceptance of the program, with a few business owners refusing - at least for now - the thousands of dollars the city offered to help them upgrade their storefronts.
The purposes of the façade improvement grant program are: to improve the aesthetic appearance of the exterior façades of existing buildings in the central business district; to restore the unique historic character of buildings in the district; and to encourage private investment in downtown properties.