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Request for Committee Action

A briefing memo explaining the purpose, background, and impact of the requested action.
Great Streets Facade Improvement Grant Program Administration funding awards (RCA-2021-00966)

Community Planning & Economic Development
To Committee(s)
# Committee Name Meeting Date
1 Business, Inspections, Housing & Zoning Committee Aug 24, 2021
Lead Staff:
Judy Moses
Presented By:
Judy Moses
Action Item(s)
# File Type Subcategory Item Description
1 Action Contract/Agreement

Authorizing agreements for Great Streets Façade Improvement Grant Program Administration, in a total amount of $450,000 as follows:

  1. African Economic Development Service (AEDS), in the amount of $50,000.
  2. Lake Street Council, in the amount of $50,000.
  3. Northeast Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce, in the amount of $50,000.
  4. Nokomis East Neighborhood Association, in the amount of $20,000.
  5. Standish-Ericsson Neighborhood Association, in the amount of $50,000.
  6. Seward Redesign Inc., in the amount of $50,000.
  7. Southwest Business Association, in the amount of $50,000.
  8. Victory Neighborhood Association, in the amount of $50,000.
  9. Webber-Camden Neighborhood Organization, in the amount of $30,000.
  10. West Bank Business Association, in the amount of $50,000.
Ward / Neighborhood / Address
# Ward Neighborhood Address
1. All Wards
Background Analysis

The Great Streets Program was created in 2007 to cultivate and sustain vibrant neighborhood commercial districts in the City of Minneapolis. The program utilizes a variety of investment tools, including the Façade Improvement Matching Grant Program which provides grants to businesses and property owners for building improvements. The approval of a new round of funding awards for the Façade program is the subject of this report.

The Great Streets Façade Grant Program seeks to stimulate visible investment in businesses and buildings, attract new businesses to vacant storefronts, support healthy and attractive neighborhood business districts, and provide a resource that administering organizations can offer businesses in their service area.

Note that the City has appropriated $175,000 in Phase 1 funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to support façade improvement grants in designated Cultural Districts.  The APRA funds have specific eligibility and other requirements that differ from the approved Great Streets Facade program guidelines. Staff need more time to review those requirements and formulate corresponding program guidelines for that allocation of funds.  At a future date, staff will recommend guidelines to utilize the APRA funds.

Program Results

The Façade Improvement Matching Grant Program has stimulated over 10 million dollars of investment in business façade improvements since its inception in 2008. This includes $2,984,348 in matching grants from the City which were leverage by $7,375,199 in private investment. For every $1.00 of public investment, the private sector invested $2.47 (see chart below).


Grant Amount Disbursed

Private Leverage

TOTAL Investment

Number of Grants







































































The types of improvements funded by matching grants range from small modifications like paint, signage, awnings, and murals, to full-scale rehabilitation and building stabilization projects, which include tuck-pointing and window and door replacement.

When asked to describe the outcomes they have observed from the Great Streets Façade Improvement Matching Grant Program, administrators’ answers include:

  • the program had become a significant impetus to a much-refreshed look in the business area,
  • funds projects that would not have happened without the grant dollars,
  • acts as a catalyst for other property investments involving a facade grant,
  • transforms entire commercial intersections,
  • builds positive working relationships with businesses,
  • funds diverse businesses in a variety of different areas, and
  • creates a favorable image of the city.

Great Streets Eligible Areas

Eligible areas include parcels identified as one of seven Land Use Categories defined in the City’s comprehensive plan – Minneapolis 2040 - and shown on the Great Streets Eligible Areas Map. The Great Streets map shows the program areas in blue, orange, or purple. The blue parcels are eligible areas, the orange parcels are priority areas, and the purple parcels are Cultural Districts. Each area has a corresponding maximum grant and private match requirement as follows: Eligible parcels – 1:2 public to private match, maximum grant amount $5,000, Priority parcels – 1:1 public to private match, maximum grant amount $7,500, Cultural Districts parcels – 1:0.5 public to private match, maximum grant amount $10,000.

Request for Proposals

Proposals for Great Streets Façade Improvement Program Administration were solicited through a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) process. Staff issued the NOFA on June 23, 2021, with proposals due July 21, 2021. (The NOFA also solicited applications for the Cultural Districts Interior Improvements Pilot Program, the subject of a separate report to City Council.) The proposal submittal form requested information regarding:

  • proposed service area;
  • organizational and staff experience and capacity to administer the program;
  • additional resources organizations can bring to the program’s implementation
  • the strategies, processes, and criteria for achieving high-quality improvements that are consistent with the program’s design guide, and where applicable, consistent with area-specific design guidelines;
  • area demand for the grant dollars; and
  • the organization’s marketing plan for the program.

Organizations administering a Great Streets Façade Improvement agreement are responsible for marketing the program, assisting property and business owners with all steps of the grant process, keeping records and tracking each awarded grant, reviewing applications for eligibility, and providing the City with all required documentation. Organizations may charge an administrative fee of up to 15% of the total award value for this work. The agreements are for three years to give organizations time to market, complete and document the work.

In line with the Small Business Program Review that CPED completed in 2019 and the City’s Strategic Racial Equity Action Plan (SREAP), administering organizations will continue to collect on a voluntary basis demographic information on the recipients of the grants.


CPED received ten proposals in response to the NOFA. The total funding amount requested was $450,000. A review committee comprised of City staff evaluated the proposals and recommends funding all ten proposals at the requested amount. These new awards will join four existing agreements from prior years which cover other areas of the city. The following chart lists the staff recommendations and the attached map (Exhibit 1) displays these recommendations, along with other areas serviced by existing agreements. Organizations that will continue to offer facade grants under existing agreements include Camden Town, Central Area Neighborhood, West Broadway Business & Area Coalition, and Whittier Alliance. CPED staff will continue to serve Great Streets Priority areas or Cultural Districts that currently do not have a community partner administering the program. Staff has tentatively allocated $30,000 for grant applications from unserved areas, but if the demand is greater, a maximum of $50,000 in grant funds can be approved.






African Economic Development Solutions

City-wide in areas not served by other administrators



Lake Street Council

Lake Street corridor



Northeast Minneapolis Chamber

Northeast Minneapolis



Nokomis East Neighborhood Association

50th St E & 34th Ave S,

54th St E & 34th Ave S

50th St & Minnehaha Park area



Standish-Ericsson Neighborhood Association

The area is bounded by Cedar Ave to the west, Hiawatha to the east, Minnehaha Parkway to the south, and 36th St. E to the north



Seward Redesign Inc.

E. Lake St, E. Franklin, and Minnehaha Ave, bound by the Mississippi River on the east, Hiawatha Ave on the west, and I-94 on the north



Southwest Business Association

The area as described below:

North Boundary - 32nd Street from Dupont Ave. to Lyndale Ave.

North Boundary - 36th Street from Lyndale Ave. to 35W.

East Boundary - 35W.

South Boundary - Richfield City Limit.

West Boundary - nodes on Xerxes Ave., from 50th St. to 56th St.

Linden Hills Business District as defined by Upton and Sheridan Avenues and 43rd St. and 44th St. business nodes.



Victory Neighborhood Association

The area within 48th Ave N on the north, Newton Ave on the east, Dowling on the south, and Xerxes on the west



West Bank Business Association

Cedar and Washington Avenues with Franklin on the south, I-35 on the north, 15th Ave on east, and I-94 on the west



Webber Camden Neighborhood Organization

44th from Newton to Lyndale (N), Lyndale 41st to 44th (E), Fremont & 42nd, Fremont Commercial hub






Any unallocated dollars remaining at the end of the three-year agreement period will be unencumbered and rolled back into the Great Streets program.

African Economic Development Solutions (AEDS)

This is the first time that African Economic Development Solutions (AEDS) has applied for façade grant funds. They have proposed to implement the program in all eligible parcels throughout the City. AEDS has a long history of assisting African immigrants with financial literacy and business development training. They have recently begun a loan program that leverages funds from other community partners to assist business owners with interior and exterior improvements. Staff recommends awarding AEDS $50,000.

Lake Street Council

The Lake Street Council (LSC) has developed a successful façade improvement program, serving the longest commercial corridor in the City with six miles of nearly continuous commercial properties. The LSC is not only very good at managing façade improvement projects on Lake Street; they are also an example to other organizations of how to effectively partner and communicate with multiple constituencies.

LSC staff effectively collaborates, putting the collective needs of Lake Street businesses at the core of their work, and they openly share their models with others. LSC has consistently had a high demand for the program from businesses in their service area. Staff recommends awarding LSC $50,000.

Northeast Minneapolis Chamber

The NE Chamber has effectively administered six façade grant agreements. The Chamber indicated that the façade grant program has assisted 81 properties in their service area. The program supports the efforts of the Chamber and the NE Minneapolis Arts Association and the NE Minneapolis Arts District to create more equitable access to resources that support small businesses. Staff recommends awarding the Northeast Minneapolis Chamber $50,000.

Nokomis East Neighborhood Association (NENA)

The Nokomis East Neighborhood Association has successfully administered the façade grant funding they received in 2019. They have combined the program with an NRP funded façade improvement program to assist 10 businesses in their service area. They have set up a marketing strategy that includes personal business visits, e-news, website promotion, and welcome outreach to new businesses. They anticipate serving 4-8 businesses with the requested funding. Staff recommends awarding NENA $20,000.

Standish-Ericsson Neighborhood Association (SENA)

The Standish Ericsson Neighborhood Association (SENA), has successfully administered 3 façade grant contracts. They have distributed 37 grants to businesses for projects that have improved visibility through new signage, and have maintained property values, comfort and security through exterior improvements like new windows and doors. They continue to get requests for information on the program and foresee there will be continued demand for the program. Staff recommends awarding SENA $50,000.

Seward Redesign Inc.

Seward Redesign Inc. (Redesign) has successfully administered the façade grant program since 2008. They work in close partnership with neighborhood groups and the Seward Civic and Commerce Association (SCCA), the Longfellow Business Association (LBA), the Lake Street Council (LSC), and West of the Rail Business Association (WRBA) to coordinate marketing and business outreach. Redesign and LSC coordinate their respective façade grant efforts on East Lake Street.

Because of Redesign’s holistic approach, in-house expertise, and experience with the program, the staff is involved in façade improvement grant projects in their early phases in most cases. This allows them to advocate for pedestrian-oriented features, public art, exciting uses of marketing strategies, and other design choices that positively impact corridor activation and revitalization. Staff recommends awarding Redesign $50,000.

Southwest Business Association

The Southwest Business Association (SWBA) has successfully administered the Great Streets Façade Improvement awards since 2008. Their administrative costs are very low allowing virtually all the funds to go to businesses. These funds have been a key element in the transformation of business nodes such as 36th Street & Bryant Avenue South, 38th Street & Nicollet Avenue, 50th Street & Penn Avenue South, and 50th Street & Xerxes Avenue South and Nicollet Avenue from 58th to 62nd Street. The awards have gone to a range of business sizes from one-person shops to those that have over 30 employees. Most of the grants have gone to locally owned businesses. This has led to a mix of larger and smaller grants throughout the service area of 350 eligible storefronts. Staff recommends awarding SWBA $50,000.

Victory Neighborhood Association

This is the first time that the Victory Neighborhood Association (VNA) has applied for façade grant funds. VNA’s previous efforts to address commercial revitalization have included relationship building with local small businesses and a strong neighborhood promotion of shopping local. They have created spaces for education and brought in other supports to assist local small businesses such as resources from NEON. Creating spaces for gatherings for small business owners to come together and engage with one another has led them to previous program funding from NRP for Commercial Matching Grants. The Great Streets Façade Grant Program was an identified need that came from their engagement efforts which seek to support their local businesses. The funds would be combined with the NRP commercial matching grant to assisted neighborhood businesses with the costs to improve their businesses which uplifts the whole community. Staff recommends awarding VNA $50,000.

Webber Camden Neighborhood Organization

This is the first time that the Webber Camden Neighborhood Organization (WCNO) has applied for façade grant funds. They have an active Business/Land Use Committee who recommended that they apply after seeing the program work in surrounding neighborhoods. Their Executive Director has previous experience with loan programs and will be the primary administrator for the program. They have developed a list of local businesses and will be marketing the program to that list. They anticipate assisting 8 -10 businesses. Staff recommends awarding WCNO $30,000.

West Bank Business Association

West Bank Business Association (WBBA) has participated in the Great Streets façade improvement program for many years. WBBA currently has a high demand for the program and a waiting list of applicants. They look forward to using this award to approve applications from business owners who have delayed improvement projects in their area. WBBA plans to continue its in-person outreach to businesses because that approach has shown an increase in engagement, utilization of WBBA services, and collaboration among businesses. Staff recommends awarding West Bank Business Association $50,000.


The Façade Improvement Matching Grant program has become a successful cornerstone of the Great Streets Neighborhood Business District program for over ten years, ushering in over $10 million in investment in commercial properties citywide. The array of new strategies developed by the administering organizations to spur investment and support economic vitality has helped the City achieve its program goals.