Winston has reopened the applications for beautification grants and loans for buildings the Urban Renewal District.
The Winston Urban Renewal Agency is given a portion of the city’s taxes to reinvest in blighted areas through grants, loans and purchases. The district was designated in 2006 and covers the main highways going through town.
The grants will match applicants financial investment up to $10,000 and loans are dispersed at a lower interest rate. Funding is granted on a first come first serve basis and is open unless the agency needs to put a freeze on funds.
Agency president, Allen Hobson said he’s only seen a few applicants get denied and those applicants did not meet the basic requirements of improving the face of the buildings.
“Exterior facades shall be updated and integrated into a design that complements adjacent structures to provide a harmonious composition of materials, colors and textures,” the application reads.
The application asks applicants to match their design to the Wildlife Safari.
“We prefer that somehow it’s branded, because Wildlife Safari is a major draw in the area,” Hobson said. “It’s a way to tie us into the fact that Wildlife Safari is there. They attract a lot of out-of-town visitation. We included that as part of our plan because we want people to visit the safari and then come down into Winston.”
Hobson said the district will be an open project for 20 years after being designated but can be renewed.
“What you try to do with your urban renewal dollars is you try to pump up some of the areas in the city that are blighted so that the urban renewal money then comes in the property taxes as the value increases,” Hobson said.
The agency used up all of their loaning power in 2016 when they funded the core project, also known as the Elephant’s Walk. The project consisted of acquiring and rehabilitating a roughly two-acre piece of land at the center of town.
The owners are developing the property on their own now and the renewal agency coffers are full enough again to aid other businesses in the area.