April 15, 2010

Revisions to the Portland Development Commission’s (PDC) popular Storefront Improvement Program, approved on April 14 by the PDC board, will broaden the availability of the program and increase architectural assistance to program clients within design review areas. Corporations and franchises will be eligible for storefront funding in the downtown retail core, a significant change to the existing program.

“We are expanding opportunities for local business owners and opening the door to attract more national employers as well,” said PDC Chair Scott Andrews. “The Storefront program has helped Portland business and property owners for more than twenty years, and today’s changes will contribute to its continued success.” Andrews cited the 2009 Portland Downtown Retail Strategy, approved by the PDC board in January 2010, as a guiding plan for the program revisions affecting the central city.

Storefront Program Changes

  • Extends the maximum grant citywide to as much as 75% of the cost of eligible work, up to $20,000; increases grants in the retail core to as much as $100,000 if the project meets the goals of the 2009 Portland Downtown Retail Strategy
  • Broadens eligibility to include: locally-owned franchises with no more than three locations within Portland; buildings of 80,000 square feet, located within the Central City Plan District; and national for-profit corporations and franchises located within the Downtown Retail Core Boundary
  • Provides 10 hours additional architectural assistance if design requires City of Portland design review approval

PDC has committed $1.9 million in funding for storefront projects this fiscal year, a near match to the almost $2 million in private investment that those projects have attracted.

The Storefront Improvement Program provides cash grants and technical assistance to business and property owners in eligible neighborhoods. Recipients can use the support for a variety of improvements, from repainting and signage to purchase of new windows and awnings. For the past twenty years, the program has re-established pride in some of Portland’s oldest and best-loved neighborhoods, by helping new and established businesses attract customers; leveraging private investment from current owners and inspiring improvements to neighboring buildings; and enhancing the appearance and charm of commercial areas while building a safer street environment.