DRP grant boosts Friars facelift
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | February 02,2013
One of developer Joseph Giancola’s buildings is the latest beneficiary of the Downtown Rutland Partnership’s facade grant program.
While the previous grants have gone to active businesses, the former site of Friar’s Tavern at 56 Strongs Ave. is vacant.
“He’s fixing it up to be able to market it,” Michael Coppinger, DRP executive director, said of the $5,000 award. “His plan is that a much-needed facelift will help attract a new tenant.”
The partnership created the program with $30,000 of the $100,000 it was paid by Green Mountain Power as part of the utility’s merger with Central Vermont Public Service Corp. The latest award means $16,440 has been claimed from the facade fund.
Giancola said the grant made a difference in his decision to pursue improvements to the building, which has been vacant for about six months.
“I had a couple people who rented it,” he said. “It would be open for a month or two and then they closed it. The grant is about a third of the cost. It helps. It makes me want to do it — it convinced me to do it.”
Previous grants went to Ted’s Pizza on State Street, Bloomfo Website Design on Cottage Street and the Paramount Theatre.
Grants of up to $5,000, requiring a 50 percent match from the recipient, are available for work on building exteriors in the downtown special benefits district. Work on the Strongs Avenue building will include new paint, new windows and a new front door along with repairs to the cornice on the storefront.
“There used to be beautiful windows in there,” Giancola said, noting that the building was originally a grocery store. “Now, you can’t look in the thing. It’s like a prison. It’ll look like a historic building like the rest of downtown.”
While the facade program got off to a slow start, Coppinger said interest has steadily increased.
“Every time we announce we’ve awarded another one, my phone and email jam with inquiries,” he said. “Now that we’re in a new year and the warm weather isn’t far off, I expect we’ll see more.”
Coppinger said the partnership may try to find a way to continue the program beyond the GMP donation.
“We’ll re-evaluate and look to see if we can allocate funds from somewhere else once these funds are spent,” he said.