Up to $50,000 From City for Change of Use Projects Thanks to New Amendment

The brownfield beneath Foxtail coffee's SODO site will possibly receive up to $50,000 in assistance from the City thanks to this new amendment. 

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By Mark Baratelli
The City of Orlando's Small Business Facade and Site Improvement Program has received a 4th Amendment focused on Change of Use costs.

Under the current program, the City reimburses 50% of the total project cost up to $50,000 for façade and site improvements only.

The City claims, after working with the small business community, that one of the biggest challenges business owners face when proposing to reuse a vacant space is related to the additional costs associated with a Change of Use.

Change of useis a change, redevelopment or modification of use from one to another of the following land use categories: Commercial, Government, Hospital, Industrial, Motel/Hotel, Multi-family, Office and Single-family. Many times, due to the costs associated with changing the type of use, these spaces continue to sit vacant and "possibly blighted." 

The new 4th Amendment to the program now gives money to Change of Use project costs:
  1. If applying for Mechanical, Electrical or Plumbing (MEP) and/or life safety improvements, as required for a change of use, the award assistance from the City shall not exceed $40,000. 
  2. If applying for façade, site improvements and MEP/life safety improvements, the award assistance should not exceed $50,000. 
  3. Applicants that fall within the City’s Main Street/Market Street areas, Urban Job Tax Credit Area and/or a designated Brownfield areas/site (like the Foxtail in SODO) are eligible for 80% reimbursement. These applicant(s) will be responsible for the remaining 20% of the total project cost.

Eligible costs for program participation include, but are not limited to: 
  1. Façade Rehabilitation 
  2. Removal of non-contributing false facades 
  3. Building cleaning (non-sandblasting) 
  4. Stucco restoration 
  5. Tuck pointing masonry 
  6. Painting 
  7. Replacement or reconstructive woodwork 
  8. New doors and windows 
  9. Restoration of historically appropriate doors, windows, or building features 
  10. Signs, awnings, murals, and canopies (must be associated with other façade improvements and no more than 50% of total award may be used toward signage or mural. An exemption can be made for properties located within special plan areas.) 
  11. Exterior lighting 
  12. Site Improvements: Landscaping, Parking lot improvements 
  13. MEP Improvements: they include but are not limited to: a. Mechanical b. Electrical c. Plumbing. Must be associated with a buildings change of use. 
  14. Interior Life Safety Improvements: Fire walls, Sprinklers, Egress, Fire alarm, exit signs and automatic lights. Must be associated with a buildings’ change of use

The City awards the funds to recipients in the form of zero-interest, deferred loans. The recipient does not have to pay them back as long as the project is in compliance with all terms of the Funding Agreement. The City will automatically forgive the monthly installments without any action as the installments become due.
  • How it works: For loan amounts of $1,000 to $9,999, payment to the City is deferred for a three (3) year period where the loan depreciates at 33% for the first two years and 34% the third year. At the end of three years, the loan is forgiven in its entirety. For loan amounts of $10,000 to $14,999, payment to the City is deferred for a four (4) year period where the loan depreciates at 25% each year. At the end of four years, the loan is forgiven in its entirety. For loan amounts of $15,000 to $20,000, payment to the City is deferred for a five (5) year period where the loan depreciates at 20% each year.

The City may from time to time at its discretion establish annual funding for the program.

Since 2006, the City's program has given $1 million to 99 businesses and commercial property owners towards their $13 million in exterior improvements. 

See what some recipients did with their loans: 

The Review Committee is comprised of a representative of the Planning Division designated by the Planning Official, a representative of the Permitting Services Division designated by the Permitting Services Director and a representative of the Business Development Division designated by the Economic Development Director.

Eligible Applicants 
  1. Manufacturing industries
  2. Construction industries
  3. Technology and communication industries
  4. Business service industries
  5. Transportation and storage industries
  6. Retail and restaurant industries
  7. Business with cultural uses
  8. Personal service industries (i.e. barber shops, beauty shops, laundromats, appliance repair, jewelry and clock repair, duplicating services, health spas, dance studios,
  9. photography studios, tailoring, and other similar services) 

Ineligible Applicants*
  1. National franchises
  2. Residential property
  3. Not for profit organizations
  4. Government owned or occupied buildings
  5. Church/religious institutions
  6. Health and medical industries
  7. Agricultural service industries
  8. Tattoo parlors
  9. Body piercing or body art shops
  10. Adult entertainment facilities
  11. Adult oriented or adult themed retail businesses
  12. Nightclubs, bars, or taverns
  13. Liquor stores
  14. Gun shops
  15. Pawn Shops
  16. Businesses that sell drug paraphernalia
  17. Any business or commercial property with outstanding code enforcement violations or liens
  18. Any business with outstanding red light camera violations
  19. Any business or commercial property that is not current with state and local taxes, and/or has any outstanding tax lien(s) against any property
  20. Any business or commercial property with outstanding debt to the City 

The following items are ineligible for reimbursement:
  1. New building construction or new building additions 
  2. Roofs 
  3. Structural improvements 
  4. Interior improvements 
  5. Refinancing existing debts 
  6. Non-fixed improvements, inventory, or equipment 
  7. Payroll (not including work to be done by owners as part of grant match) and associated overhead costs 
  8. Improvements or expenditures made prior to execution of the funding agreement 
  9. General periodic maintenance 
  10. Consultant fees 
  11. Costs associated with architectural design or preparation of construction documents