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Program helps Jeannette businesses improve facades <br><br>

| Monday, May 14, 2012, 2:04 p.m.

Jeannette business owners looking to give their buildings a face-lift can still receive assistance from the city of Jeannette's facade improvement program.

'The program is open citywide. There are no restrictions as far as location,' said Diana Reitz, community development director. 'This program is open to businesses within the city to stimulate revitalization of the buildings.'

The program provides assistance to property owners to do improvements on the front of their properties, including painting, brick repointing, signage, window and door replacement.

The facade program is established through the city's Community Development Block Grant funds.

'It is a matching program with 50 percent of up to $5,000 being provided by the city,' said Reitz.

The $5,000 is the maximum a business owner can receive from the city per building. And if the property is located in the immediate downtown area, special regulations apply.

'We have to comply with the state historical department's regulations, especially for most of the buildings in downtown Jeannette because they are considered historic,' Reitz added. 'For example, if a business owner is looking at window replacement and the building has existing windows with the original frames, they would have to get the same type of window. You have to get the facade the same as it was in order to keep the historic appearance of the building.'

Each facade improvement application is reviewed and approved by Mayor Carl Matt and city council.

'Business owners can reapply for a second project, once the first project is completed. But if I have someone on the list that has never participated in the program, they will get priority,' said Reitz.

Since 1999, 14 businesses throughout the city have taken advantage of the program.

To apply, the business owner must fill out an application and show proof of property ownership. At least two bids from qualified contractors - those that carry workmen's compensation and liability insurance - are also required.

Once approved for the program, the business owner can either pay the full amount of the improvement, then give a copy of the bill to the city for reimbursement or the city can pay the contractor directly.

'I want the business owners to know about this program and that it is still available,' said Reitz. 'I want to afford every business owner the opportunity to participate.'

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