Glocester wins grant money for historic facade improvements

Glocester wins grant money for historic facade improvements

GLOCESTER – While businesses are struggling nationwide during the coronavirus pandemic, Glocester is doing its part to help local businesses in Chepachet Village, issuing grant money for façade improvements on historic buildings.

Town Planner Karen Scott worked with the National Park Service to secure $250,000 for the Historic Revitalization Subgrant program to rehabilitate, protect and foster economic development.

Scott said Glocester is the only municipality awarded the grant, and most awardees are state or national programs. The program will fund physical preservation projects for historic sites on the Chepachet Village National Register District.

The no-match grant is open to commercial and mixed-use buildings and will use a portion of funds to pay for historic architectural and engineering services for each project.

Scott said she expects to award three to five grants in total.

“We’re hoping we can make some investments in these buildings and that you’ll really start to see a change in the village,” Scott said.

Initially, Scott said the town wished to issue grants in April, but the coronavirus put a stop to applications.

“We didn’t want to be sending stuff out to new business owners. We decided to sit on it for a while and give recovery some time, let businesses get back open,” Scott said.

Scott said Chepachet is seeing more foot traffic, and the town decided to open up grant applications.

Around 75 properties are in the National Historic Register District, and there are about 25 to 30 eligible businesses. Those will be notified by mail, and Scott said others who are interested should reach out to her to apply at 401-568-6206.

The town is releasing an online PDF application on Aug. 17 with a deadline of Oct. 9, and award announcements are expected in November, Scott said.

“I’m excited. I feel we’ve really put a lot of time in it and simplified the application process,” Scott said.

Decisions will be made with the help of the Rhode Island Historic Preservation and Heritage Commission, members of the Town Council, the Glocester Historic District Commission and architects specializing in historic preservation.

Projects will be judged on visibility in the district, the impact of changes to expand the existing building, the impact for new residents in the district, and previous investments from property owners, among others.

Scott said the façade improvement grant is one of many ways the town is working to strengthen the village.

“This is only one piece. We’re trying to find something that will help with different aspects for the fuller revitalization process,” she said.

Grants such as these are reflective of a town government working cohesively and collaboratively for the betterment of the community, Scott said. With cooperation from the Town Council and other officials, she said she hopes to find more funding sources for more projects.

“We want to show that we’re trying to make a vibrant, historic district,” she said.