Downtown businesses making improvements to facades - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Downtown businesses making improvements to facades

Eau Claire (WQOW) - Road construction on Barstow has been complete for a little over a week, and it isn't just the streets getting a fresh look.

After a summer full of detour signs, car traffic is back to a steady flow on Barstow. And as the finishing touches are made to sidewalk, some businesses are planning for projects of their own.

Hugh Passow, the Owner of the Antique Emporium, says, "Now that the street is basically completed this fall I want to redo the facade of my building here. Something that I have been wanting to do for awhile."

We all know the importance of a first impression. "So, obviously mine is starting to get a little tarnished," says Passow. "We're going to remove all of the siding and signage and most of the trim that's on the front of the building and replace it with a smooth sub straight that I can paint."

A $3,200 grant the Antique Emporium received through Downtown Eau Claire Incorporated will help pay for the facade facelift. 

Mike Schatz, the Economic Development Administrator for Eau Claire, says, "And it had to be for project that people could see, that would be of value to the public, more of bricks and mortar and outside of buildings."

Passow says, "I think that was a great idea and probably some of the best money they've ever spent here is to actually give us some money to do some of these things. Some of us could us the help doing it."

There's also a Regional Business Fund Facade Loan Program available, with a zero percent interest rate.

Schatz says, "Businesses can't borrow any better than that and after coming through several years of a down economy and then putting up with a road that was under construction, I think it was critical that there be a good program like that they could take advantage of."

B-Framed Galleries beat the Barstow construction rush, and revamped their facade two years ago without the help of a loan or grant. 

Cindy Wing-Reed, the Owner of B-Framed Galleries says, "We changed the lower facade, the first story from cedar to stucco."

The business says it's a look that's turned a lot of heads and now is a good time for others to take their lead. 

Wing-Reed says, "A lot of people are taking advantage of that and this is just a perfect time to do it. Everything fresh and new, and it really is a great overall look for everyone."

Schatz says, "The values will go up because of those improvements and having a nice street, nice facades just makes for an overall better looking downtown."

The Firehouse Tavern, Nicole's Downtown Salon and Spa, Volume One, and Houligans are just a few of the businesses who have applied for the loan program. Up to $30,000 can be borrowed.

The city says the grant money through DECI has all been used.

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