A former ice cream factory is one of three buildings and six storefronts on Congress Street that have been, or are in the process of getting a facelift, thanks in part to the City of Portland’s Façade Improvement Program. The government funding which helps to leverage private investment comes from the City’s Community Development Block Grant, through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. When the second round of the program has been completed, the public investment will total about $185,000. The grants provide an incentive for building and business owners to invest in rehabilitating their storefronts, and replacing deteriorated signs and awnings.
A new striped awning and a new sign will soon complete the storefront project at 486 Congress Street, a three-story brick building near Monument Square which was built in 1877 and now houses Salon Paragon, but was once the home of a candy store and an ice cream factory. New doors, panels and moldings were installed, replacing some that were deteriorated and others that were incompatible with this historic building. There is also a fresh coat of paint and a new tile threshold. Once the project is finished, the grant provided for this renovation will be about $11,000, matched in private investment dollars by the building’s owner, Donna Barthe.
The Strand Building at 565 Congress Street has four newly-renovated storefronts. The extensive work on the building involved new storefront systems, new siding to match the previously rehabbed Salt Institute section of the building, a new entrance canopy, new signs and a cleaned granite band just above the storefronts. The Façade Program provided a maximum $20,000 incentive grant for this project. It leveraged a substantial investment from the property owner which far exceeded the public funding portion.
At the Mechanics Hall at 519 Congress Street, restoration and repair has just begun to the storefront level and main entrance area with upgrades to masonry, wood, tile and metal. A $20,000 grant is helping to make this project possible.