By KURT HAUGLIE
HANCOCK/HOUGHTON - The downtowns of Hancock and Houghton are getting a sprucing up thanks to some facade grants.
Daily Mining Gazette/Kurt Hauglie
The building which houses the offices of the accountant Joseph M. Daavettila and attorney Nicholas J. Daavettila on Shelden Street in Houghton is one of four buildings getting facade work done using funds from the Michigan Economic Development Commission. Two buildings in Hancock are also having facade work done using Downtown Development Authority funds.
Glenn Anderson, Hancock city manager, said two buildings on the 300 block of Quincy Street are benefiting from facade grants for the city's Downtown Development Authority. Blast From the Past is getting a significant facade improvement, which will include wood siding. The building housing WMPL radio station received some new windows.
Anderson said the DDA started the facade program using DDA funds in 2008. So far, 31 grants totaling $212,672 have been given out, for an average of about $8,860 per project.
The facade improvements are important for downtown, and it is expected to continue, Anderson said.
"It's vital to give an incentive to property owners," he said. "The DDA's plan is to keep this program going as long as we can."
Eric Waara, Houghton city manager, said four buildings on Shelden Avenue are having facade work done. The buildings which house the Douglass Insurance Agency, the Blue Iris florist, accountant Joseph M. Daavettila and attorney Nicholas J. Daavettila, and the State Wide real estate are all in the process of facade renovation.
Waara said the total cost for the work being done on the four buildings is about $857,000, which is split $216,000 provided by the building owners and about $640,000 by MEDC.
"It's a great program for the property owners," he said.
The Houghton City Council may provide mini-DDA facade grants for smaller projects, Waara said.
"We'll be looking into that," he said.
Waara said the city council is encouraging other downtown building owners to come forward if they would like to take part in future facade-funding programs.
In the last few years, Waara said about $1 million has gone into facade work downtown.
"The city has become a poster child for how to do that," he said.