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While everyone has heard the old maxim to not judge a book by its cover, the city of Brentwood is taking no chances as it prepares to roll out a program to revamp the exteriors of some local businesses.

The Brentwood City Council has announced the return of the Commercial Beautification and Façade Improvement Grant Program. It is designed to encourage and assist small businesses looking to improve “street-facing exteriors of commercial buildings.” This includes revitalization of stucco, architectural enhancements, disability accessibility and new signs, among other things, according to Josh Ewen of the city manager’s office.

“The program gives business and property owners a chance to leverage funds for improvements they may have been putting off by providing some assistance in the form of these grants” explained Ewan, a senior analyst in the city’s economic development division. “It’s something mutually beneficial for them and the city.”

The grant would reimburse up to $25,000 in construction costs used to improve commercial buildings, with business or property owners matching the city’s funds between 10% and 15% of their requested amount. The city has set aside $50,000 for downtown businesses and property owners within the city’s “Downtown Specific Plan Area” and another $100,000 in grant money for the rest of the city. The reimbursement would not cover any costs related to improvements of building interiors or any major structural improvement such as roofing.

Although similar programs had been implemented in the past, the city of Brentwood has not made similar efforts for roughly four years, according to Ewan. However, with funds now allocated to beautification as part of a strategic initiative, the City Council decided to roll out a new grant program to help bolster local businesses during a time when many businesses nationwide have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This allows the city to meet with business owners we don’t normally meet with and develop those relationships,” said Ewan when asked what excites him about the program. “It’s a chance to hear from them about what needs they have that the city could potentially help with.”

The city is accepting applications for their Commercial Beautification and Façade Improvement Grant Program through Oct. 8. The application and more information can be found online on the city of Brentwood website www.brentwoodca.gov.

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