While discussions about economic development often focus on large projects, smaller businesses are critical to our local economy and help define the general character of downtown New Rochelle. Restoring historic facades, providing attracting signage and otherwise enhancing the appearance of our central business district are more than cosmetic priorities … they help make downtown New Rochelle more appealing to shoppers and investors.

That’s why the Facade Improvement Program from the New Rochelle Business Improvement District (BID) has been so valuable. Since launching this initiative, the BID has attracted about $650,000 in grants. The funding has been directly applied to rehabilitating about 75 storefronts, with additional storefronts on the way, and has helped leverage at least $2.5 million more in private investment. This effort has also been linked to the Artists Spaces program, which markets vacant upper floor space for artists studios at affordable rents.

To help expand the program and achieve a broader renewal of our downtown’s physical appearance, the City Council is working with the BID to secure an additional $500,000 grant from the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation. New Rochelle has proven that it can utilize grants efficiently and effectively to advance the public interest, and that should enhance the prospects for this latest application.