Plan floated to facilitate improving storefronts




NAUGATUCK — The borough is looking to implement a facade improvement program that will help tenants or property owners upgrade their store fronts.

A few businesses on a portion of Church Street can be seen on July 19.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said borough officials have been looking at the program for some time.

Half of the improvement payouts are forgiven as long as businesses stay, comply with all of the agreed upon maintenance, keep up to date on taxes and other guidelines.

Eligible payouts may include but are not limited to window and/or door replacement or repair, removal or replacement of siding, cleaning or painting, repair or restoration of exterior architectural detailing, repair or replacement of all signs, building permits and architectural fees associated with the project, and removal of architectural barriers that restrict access by the differently abled, Hess said.

Ineligible costs include interior repairs, new building construction, work preformed before a fully executed agreement, purchase of property or equipment, decorative seasonal projects, Hess added.

Other towns with similar programs include Torrington, New Britain, Meriden, East Hartford, Wethersfield, Clinton and Danbury.

“There’s a lot of different towns that adopt these programs and they vary all the way,” borough attorney Ned Fitzpatrick said.

Hess said if someone came in with a $30,000 plan and met the standards and was approved, they would put up $15,000 of their own money. The tenant or owner would have to do the work before they get the funds. They would be forgiven $3,000 a year for five years as long as they kept up with all of the requirements.

“I think that’s a terrific idea of having a forgiveness program spread out over time so not only do they invest but they have to maintain and if they could keep it then they get the forgiveness over a period of five years,” Fitzpatrick said.

The program could be applied for the Tax Increment Financing District, which is mainly in the downtown area that includes Church Street and Rubber Avenue, Hess said.

Burgess Rocky Vitale said officials are so focused on downtown and other areas such as North Main and Bridge streets shouldn’t be forgotten.

Spring Street, Bridge Street and North Main Street were added as possible areas to be included for the program.

Hess said burgesses and Fitzpatrick would put together a draft to discuss it further and further edit it before ultimately deciding if the borough would implement it.