The Town of Cicero has been awarded $403,000 for façade improvements to the City’s downtown business district. The project will historically preserve the downtown commercial district helping to create a vibrant downtown area.
According to Town of Cicero’s Community Development Coordinator Shae Kmicikewycz, this grant came through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA).
“OCRA administers a federal grant program,” Kmicikewycz told The Reporter. “There are two different types of grants we could have gone after through the Main Street Revitalization Program (MSRP). The one we did was façade improvement, the other would have been streetscape. We decided to do the façade improvement. Our building owners are putting in 20 percent of the match.”
In order to qualify for this opportunity, a town must have a Main Street organization. In this case, that is Our Town Cicero.
“Without Our Town Cicero the town would not have been eligible to apply,” Kmicikewycz said. “We also had to declare the downtown is an area in need of redevelopment. Those were the two criteria we had to meet to qualify for the funding.”
Fourteen building owners are participating in the façade renovation. The projects range in size and scope.
“Many of them will be doing tuckpointing of their brick buildings,” Kmicikewycz said. “Some will do new doorways, lighting, some awnings, and one building is removing old wood shingle awnings and fixing the windows that are underneath. We are really restoring the buildings back to their original character.”
Historic accuracy is also a component of this process.
“They follow the Secretary of Interior guidelines for historic preservation,” Kmicikewycz explained. “When looking at windows and doorways they have to have something that is more historic in nature rather than just a metal-clad door. All of the projects have gone through and will go through a historic preservations office to ensure they are doing things properly.”
Citizens and visitors could see the new face of downtown Cicero in as little as one year.
“Most likely construction will begin in spring of next year,” Kmicikewycz told The Reporter. “Hopefully it will be completed by the end of summer or early fall of 2018.”
The point is not just to improve the appearance of building in need of repair, but to help revitalize the area for new growth in the future.
“It is a wonderful opportunity and we have some great things going on downtown,” Kmicikewycz said. “I believe this is going to have a big impact on the community in future development opportunities. We already have great businesses located downtown and some really wonderful restaurants. I think this is going to help bring in more visitors, more residents and hopefully more businesses downtown.”
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, State Rep. Tony Cook (R-Cicero) said, “Revitalizing these areas help in economic and social development, and Cicero will benefit greatly by investing in this transformation.”
Kmicikewycz wanted to stress that no one person made this happen. It was a combined effort from city government, the local Main Street organization, business owners and the community.
“It was a real team effort,” Kmicikewycz said. “The town is excited to be able to partner with the building owners and Our Town Cicero. We had over 70 people attend the last public hearing, so we had a great amount of community support. We would not have been able to do this project without all the people who helped us.”