Redevelopment Authority Citizens Committee redefines element of downtown facade program

The Redevelopment Authority Citizens Committee redefined one element of its downtown facade program, approved a project on Carson Street and dedicated money to improving the historic district’s blue line.

RACC decided to change the requirement for three bids from contractors doing their own work and provide a waiver of the requirement for other property owners.

The Downtown Facade Improvement Program was authorized by the Board of Supervisors in March.

It provides matching funds up to $25,000 for projects giving a facelift to buildings in redevelopment areas 1 and 2, including painting, new signage, lighting, brick work, awnings or decorative elements.

Applicants are required to get three bids on their project and, if approved, the city provides matching funds based on the lowest bid.

RACC, before Monday, had approved about $130,000 to eight projects.

But the requirement to get three bids sometimes has proven to be a problem for applicants.

Lee Plemel, community development director, said the property owners were either contractors and planned to do the work themselves or were having a hard time getting busy contractors to bid on relatively small projects like the ones involved in the program.

Ronni Hannaman, RACC chair, said June Joplin, owner of Comma Coffee, had shown interest in the program so she called Joplin when she didn’t apply.

“I called and asked her why are you not here, you were so gung ho, and she told me ‘I’m so frustrated, I can only get one bid,’” said Hannaman. “It’s a real conundrum for the businesses owners who would like to improve their buildings.”

Plemel made two suggestions on how to revise the requirement and RACC decided to meld the two: property owners who also are contractors now have to provide a detailed line item of their costs and other applicants can apply for a waiver to the three-bid requirement that RACC will take up on a case by case basis.

RACC also approved $23,500 for improvements to 206-210 N. Carson St.

The project includes painting, brick and window work, and new lighting on both the building’s front on Carson Street and back on Curry Street.

The building is owned by Kitzmeyer LLC and houses Hanifan’s Art & Antiques, Body by Bijhan Personal Training and Nevada Vapor Supply.

RACC committed $26,000 to redo the sidewalk blue line that creates a 2.5-mile walk through Carson City’s historic district.

RACC has about $371,000 in undesignated funds available and discussed the possibility of also creating a revolving loan fund for small businesses.

But the Board of Supervisors recently approved an amendment to an agreement with Campagni Auto Group that will provide the car dealer about $170,000 a year for two years in tax incentives starting in 2018.

The incentive payments are 10 percent of the city’s portion of the Basic City-County Relief Tax and Supplemental City- County Relief Tax, which is estimated to be $386,000 based on the car dealers’ forecasted sales.

At the time, the board did not decide whether the funds for that would come from the general fund or the redevelopment fund.

So it’s still unclear whether the redevelopment fund will have enough uncommitted money to add a new program such as revolving loan program for small businesses.

RACC considered having staff gather information for a loan program and present it at the next meeting, but decided to table the idea indefinitely.

“I don’t want to see it come back because I don’t think we have the money and it would be a waste of staff time,” said Lori Bagwell, committee member and supervisor, who said it could be revisited next year.

RACC’s next meeting is Nov. 7.


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