The City of Caribou Façade Improvement Grant Program is a proposed partnership between the City of Caribou and private sector building owners to improve the exteriors of commercial and mixed use properties in Caribou. The program offers matching grant funds for the purpose of restoring/renovating commercial storefronts and poor quality commercial signs and awnings in an effort to combat blight and boost economic development in our community.
- The program is structured as a 50/50 matching grant for improvements to the exterior of businesses located in Caribou that are visible from the street.
- The intent of this program is to:
- Encourage property owners to make visible improvements to their businesses;
- Enhance the unique character and aesthetic appearance of the City of Caribou; and
- Maintain community structures to minimize the economic impact of blight.
- Grant recipients will be reimbursed up to fifty percent (50%) – not to exceed $7,500 – of the cost of eligible expenses upon satisfactory completion of the work.
- The City will provide these funds through an annual competitive application process with an application deadline of March 15. Notice of fund availability will be advertised by February 1 in a newspaper of general circulation, on the city’s website and social media platforms.
- The Façade Improvement Committee will review, and award applications based on the criteria for eligible projects outlined below. Applicants will be notified of their awards by April 15 of the funding year. If funding is still available, a fall application process may take place with notice and timeframes similar to the spring process.
Façade Improvement Grant funds are available for improvements of any commercial property within Caribou that meets the following criteria:
- In order to be eligible for reimbursement, all improvements must be visible from a public right-of-way.
- Examples of eligible improvements include, but are not limited to:
- Repairs or improvements to the exterior siding
- Cleaning, repointing, or removing paint from exterior brick
- Restoring or replacing windows
- Restoring or replacing doors
- A fresh coat of paint
- Signage enhancements (e.g. masonry skirting, ornamental lighting, etc.)
- Decorative or privacy fencing
- The maximum City contribution for each grant application is as follows:
- Major façade restoration: up to $7,500
- New coat of paint: up to $2,000
- Signage Enhancements: up to $1,500
- Sign face changes: up to $750
- Fencing: up to $2,000
All awards are subject to funding availability. The City reserves the right to award funding in a manner it deems appropriate to meet the intent of these funds and assist as many properties as possible. Requests may not be fully awarded.
- Each applicant may only be awarded one grant per calendar year per parcel.
- Work must comply with all City of Caribou code’s including local ordinances and the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code (MUBEC).
- Projects must have all appropriate permits and be designed by a qualified design professional.
- Requests related to signs must have designs produced by a professional sign maker/printer. The design of all proposed signage must be submitted with the Façade Grant application. The proposed signage must comply with all applicable codes and ordinances. A sign permit must be obtained, and all work must be done in compliance with Caribou Land Use Ordinance Sign Regulations. If signage is on a Maine Department of Transportation maintained road, signage must meet MDOT standards.
- If the property has been declared dangerous by the Caribou City Council in accordance with MRSA Title 17 §285, the applicant shall not be eligible.
- The applicant must provide written estimates for all work for which they wish to be reimbursed. Only eligible expenses will be reimbursed. Upon completion, the applicant must provide receipts for completed work and/or supplies. Funds will be disbursed only after satisfactory completion of the approved work and documentation is received by the city.
- Upon request, a ribbon cutting ceremony will be planned by City Staff/Council to celebrate the improvements and raise awareness in the community.
- Applicants must be property owners or tenants with the property owner’s written consent.
- The site for which funds are requested shall not have outstanding code violations or tax liens.
Application Review Process
- Grant candidates will be selected and recommended by a five (5) member committee, which includes: one member of the Caribou City Council, Caribou Downtown Team, the Caribou Economic Growth Council, the Caribou Planning Board and the City Marketing Director. The City Manager, Code Enforcement Officer and City Building Official will advise the committee. Final approval and selection of recipients will be awarded and announced by the Caribou City Council.
- When determining which applications will receive funding, priority will be given to:
- Projects that demonstrate the greatest overall need / urgency
- Permanent structures
- Buildings with high visibility and/or large street frontages
- Material quality
- Contribution to placemaking in the downtown
- Consistency with the comprehensive plan
- Business retention and expansion capabilities from award
- Wayfinding assistance
- Use of local labor for the work
- Applicants who did not receive funding during the previous grant cycle
- Blight remediation
- The application is available here: Printable Application
- Applications may also be obtained in person at City Hall, 25 High Street.
- The deadline to submit an application is March 15 at 5:00 p.m. or next business day if March 15 falls on a weekend.
- Applications must include all relevant information, including a written summary of the request and urgency for the funds, a cost estimate for the proposed work, photographs of the project location, and design drawings or photo mockups.
- This grant is taxable and will need to be reported to the IRS. W-9 forms will be required to issue the reimbursement and are attached to the application.
- You may submit the application by mail, in person, or by email: City Manager. If applying by mail or in person, please submit the application to: City Manager, City of Caribou, 25 High Street, Caribou, ME 04736.
The City of Caribou is committed to cleaning up blighted properties and restoring community vitality. The Façade Grant program has been identified as one of the tools that can be used to counteract, prevent, and reduce the effects of blight on community enhancement and economic development endeavors. The City is authorized by the state to have a Community Improvement Grant Program using funds from Tax Increment Funds.