An Aurora City Council committee this week endorsed reauthorizing more money for a program that helps downtown building owners fix up their properties.
Aldermen on the Finance Committee voted 3-0 to endorse another $425,000 for the Finish Line Grant program administered by Invest Aurora, the non-profit redevelopment arm of the city.
The Finish Line Grant program was established in 2014 to provide grants to building owners downtown for renovations or redevelopment. The idea is that the grant provides a bridge if a project falls short of necessary funding — if it needs money to get the project to the finish line.
The program expired a few months ago, but city officials said they want to continue it for 2019. Both John Curley, Aurora’s chief development officer, and Bill Wiet, Invest Aurora interim director, referred to the program as “highly successful.”
Wiet said to date, there has been about $1.5 million in Finish Line Grant money awarded, which has led to about $59 million in private investment downtown.
The money is funded by money from two tax increment financing districts in downtown, TIF number one and TIF number three. The plan is to take $375,000 from TIF number one, and $75,000 from TIF number three.
The grants are for up to $75,000 in most cases, or up to $100,000 in some cases, such as restaurant development.
Under the reauthorized program, there are a couple of changes. One is that in awarding the grants, priority is based on the 2017 updated downtown master plan.
Another is reaffirming that the money can only be used for fixed, permanent changes to the building, not things like furniture. It cannot be used for routine maintenance, such as a new water heater.
The reauthorization is set to go before the council’s Committee of the Whole next week, and onto the full council Oct. 9.
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