Tyler Street Storefront Improvement Enhancement Program Now Accepting Applications

The City of Pittsfield’s Tyler Street District Storefront Improvement Enhancement Program is now accepting applications from prospective businesses in the TDI district.

The pilot program will help an estimated four to five storefronts in the vicinity. Hard copies of the applications will be available in the Community Development at City Hall and online here: http://www.cityofpittsfield.org/city_hall/community_development/tyler_street_storefront_improvement_program.php. Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until participants are selected.

The program centers on improvements to the exterior of buildings facing Tyler Street including façade renovations; window replacement; door replacement; exterior lighting (affixed to the building, not lighted signs or freestanding signs); lighting at the interior of the façade/windows; painting, awnings (new or replacements); and signage.

The city was awarded a $30,000 grant this past spring through MassDevelopment toward the Tyler Street Storefront Improvement Enhancement Program. Additionally, the City Council approved matching funds of $30,000 the city’s 40R funds toward the program.

In addition to MassDevelopment, the city’s Community Development Department will work in concert with the Tyler Street Business Group on the initiative and selection process.

Applicants are encouraged to seek free professional business advice from the Berkshire Regional Office of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network located at 75 North St. or can be reached at 413.499.0933; such consultation is encouraged both before and during the application process.

For businesses accepted into the program, there is a 20 percent minimum of the project’s total cost or the remainder of the improvements, following allocations from both the MassDevelopment grant and the City of Pittsfield’s matching funds.

Program requirements and stipulations include the following:

  • Proposed storefronts must be located within the Tyler Street TDI district, and eligible buildings must be used for commercial purposes.
  • For-profit and not-for-profit businesses are eligible for participation.
  • Mixed-use buildings are eligible if the first floor is used for commercial or professional purposes; if the owner of the building is the applicant, he/she will be expected to work with his/her commercial tenants on any improvements which will or could impact tenant businesses.
  • Owners of vacant commercial buildings or space may apply as well as commercial tenants with the property owner’s permission.
  • Business owners are required to have at least a one-year lease in order to be eligible for these grant funds with the exception of signage, which requires a three-year lease.

Ineligible improvements include interior improvements; roof repairs, or other building elements not visible from the street; sidewalk repairs; planting or landscaping; renovations or repairs of any residential property; demolition of historic features without a like replacement. Any improvements begun prior to application submission, for which funding is requested, will not be considered.

Additionally, other ineligible entities for the program include single and multi-family residential buildings, as well as religious organizations.

The results of program will help the city determine future demand and also assess as to whether a permanent, long-term storefront improvement program should be established not only for Tyler Street businesses but also for our other business corridors throughout the city.

In addition to this grant, Tyler Street is the beneficiary of another MassDevelopment initiative, the Better Block Program. The project, which will kick off on Saturday, Aug. 26, aims to transform a block on Tyler Street with the help of volunteers.

For more information on the storefront program, please call Deanna Ruffer, Director, Community Development, at 499-9449.