City of Milwaukee Commercial Revitalization Grants Application

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Contact Information

Commercial Corridor Team
809 N Broadway, Room 104
Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 286-8201


Commercial corridors are the windows to our neighborhoods and can play a significant role in improving neighborhood perception and quality of life. Commercial corridors are the major arterials that connect neighborhoods and are the first glimpse people experience when entering into residential areas. They are comprised of nodes and clusters of commercial buildings and businesses. When we imagine healthy neighborhoods, we think of well kept storefronts filled with businesses that offer the community and surrounding area places to shop, eat, work and play.

The goal of the Commercial Revitalization Grant Program is to assist and incentivize the enhancement of commercial properties and storefronts in Milwaukee’s commercial corridors. The grants are intended to eliminate blight, enhance building aesthetics, and activate the public realm by assisting businesses in achieving higher quality storefronts to attract customers and improve neighborhood perceptions.

Ineligible Projects

Ineligible Properties Ineligible Uses/Modifications
-Tax delinquent or tax exempt properties
-Properties with condemnation or raze orders
-Properties in receivership or litigation
-Applicants with other delinquent property taxes
-Properties not located on publicly visible commercial corridors
-Properties not zoned for commercial purposes
-Exclusively residential properties
-New construction projects shall be considered on a case by case basis
-Grant funds cannot be used to fix property damage covered by insurance
-Grant funds cannot be used solely to correct outstanding building code violations
-Routine maintenance such as painting, tuck-pointing or other work that does not result in a visibly noticeable improvement
-Religious Assembly
-National Franchises* or Retail Chain Stores
-Tobacco and/or Liquor Stores
-Pawn Shops
-Strip Clubs
-Cash for Gold
-Pay Day Loan Store
-Multi-Level Marketing
-Gun Stores
-Non-public and non-profit uses
-Daycare or Childcare Centers
-Exclusively Liquor Establishments
-External Security Gates or Bars on windows or doors
-Internally Lit Cabinet Signs
-Tinted, Reflective or Non-Transparent Window Treatments or Glazing
-Applicants who have received an award in the
previous 12 months
*National franchises are defined as operating under substantially the same name in three or more states, regardless of ownership structure regarding the individual entities

Application and Approval Process

Individuals interested in applying for the Commercial Revitalization Grant program should first contact the Commercial Corridor Team to discuss their project. Applications are accepted throughout the year and are reviewed by the Business Resource Committee once a month to determine if the project merits an award and an award amount. A completed application package is due a minimum of two weeks prior to the committee meeting. Any expenses incurred or work started prior to committee approval will be ineligible for reimbursement.

Once approved, applicants have up to 9 months from the date of committee approval to complete the project. Any changes to project design or contractors must be approved in writing by staff prior to project alterations. Grant approval does not guarantee that presented work meets all permitting codes and zoning ordinances. Applicants and their contractors are responsible for obtaining all required permits, approvals and licenses. Contractors should have the appropriate licenses and qualifications for the work they are performing.

Once the project is completed, staff will verify that all work has been completed. See next section for compliance and reimbursements guidelines.

Compliance and Reimbursement Guidelines

Beginning Project
Applicants must wait for the application to be approved before making any payments towards, or starting work on, grant eligible expenses. Payments made or work started before approval shall be ineligible for reimbursement.
Changes to Project or Contractors
Once approved by the Business Resource Committee, applicants can begin work on their project. All grant awardees MUST obtain approval from CCT staff for any changes to the contractors or project details that were submitted in the application. CCT staff reserves the right to refuse reimbursement in part, or in whole, for unauthorized changes. Awardees should ensure they, or their contractors, have secured all the necessary permits for their project. Grants may be terminated for non-permitted work.
Grant Extensions
All grant awardees have up to 9 months to complete their projects from the date of committee approval. Unanticipated events or situations may result in a longer project. In certain circumstances, awardees may apply for grant extensions; however, they must do so prior to the expiration of the grant and demonstrate significant progress at the time of request. Staff reserve the right to terminate grants based on the time limits if the project has not shown significant progress or the awardee has become non-responsive.
Upon completion of the project, staff will visit the site of the project to inspect the work. Awardees must submit copies of paid invoices AND proof of payment for each invoice to demonstrate that they have met all the required matching expenditure amounts. Copies of posted checks or bank statements are acceptable forms of Proof of Payment. Lien waivers cannot be used as proof of payment. Cash payments are not allowed.
Once the work is confirmed and the necessary documents have been submitted, please allow up to 90 days for the reimbursement to occur.

Criteria for Consideration

Special Consideration may be given to projects within Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Areas, Target Investment Neighborhoods, Business Improvement Districts, Neighborhood Improvement Districts, and Commercial Corridors with significant blight or storefront vacancies
Activation of the street
The project must ameliorate a blighting influence.
All façade work must be done on the exterior of the building and result in a publicly visible improvement.
All façade work must be done on a street facing side of an existing building.
Work on the rear or roof of the building is not eligible for a façade/signage grant.
Live-in studios must be classified as a commercial or mixed use building.
Funding Need
Will the grant result in an improvement that would not be made otherwise?
Will the project substantially leverage more investments than the required matching amount of the grant?
Complies with City Building code and all applicable bodies that govern design (e.g. Historic Preservation,
Architectural Review Board, etc.)
Does the project utilize higher quality materials?
Is the work being proposed an enhancement?
If required, has the project obtained a Certificate of Appropriateness or approval by an Architectural Review
Board ARB?
(examples include locally designated historic districts or buildings and/or the Third Ward and East Side ARB)

Community impact
Does the proposed project serve the community or contribute to the well-being of the neighborhood?
Does the project positively contribute to the development and growth of the corridor?
Is there community support for the project?

Applicant Information

Information on the person applying for and receiving the grant funds.
Are you the head of the household? *
Race/Ethnicity (check all that apply) *

Project Information

Where will the improvements be made?
City must be Milwaukee, State must be Wisconsin.

Property Owner Information

Do you own the property where these improvements will be made? *
Type of Ownership *

Business/Occupant Information

Who will be the end user of the space?
Has the final user of the space been confirmed? *
Will this business sell alcohol or alcoholic beverages?

Grant Selection

Which grants are you applying for? (please mark all that apply).
Your selections here will determine which enhancements tables appear below. *
Signage Enhancements
 Description of Materials and ActivitiesCost from Quote 1Cost from Quote 2Estimated time to complete
Sign Fabrication
External Lighting Fixtures
Electrical Work
Contractor Fee
Grant Calculation:
In addition to this form, please include:
        Renderings or drawings of the proposed sign
        Official quotes from two licensed and bonded contractors detailing the above costs
We also recommend that you contact the development center to obtain a sign permit before starting your project to ensure your sign meets City guidelines. This may help to prevent losses resulting from signs that do not meet City codes.
Façade Enhancements
 Description of Materials and ActivitiesCost from Quote 1Cost from Quote 2Estimated time to complete
Major Façade Alterations
Window Improvements
Lighting improvements (eligible if part of a larger project)
Landscaping (eligible if part of a larger project)
Fencing (eligible if part of a larger project)
Contractor Fee
Grant Calculation:
*More than 1 façade on a corner building or multi-storefront building will be considered on a case by case basis however no more than 1 grant is guaranteed. Additionally, a façade grant of up to $10,000 will be considered on a special basis for the most visible façade if the project leverages higher matching investment, higher quality materials, and design that enhances the building and the corridor.
In addition to this form, please include:
Renderings, elevations or drawings of the proposed façade improvements
Official quotes from two licensed and bonded contractors detailing the above costs
Storefront Activation
 Description of Materials and ActivitiesCost from Quote 1Cost from Quote 2Estimated time to complete
Interior Walls
Electrical Work
Contractor Fee
Grant Calculation:
In addition to this form, please include:
Renderings, drawings or floor plans of the proposed storefront activation improvements
Official quotes from two licensed and bonded contractors detailing the above costs

Project Uses and Sources

Project Uses
(Please calculate your estimated total project costs. Please note that not all costs are eligible for our grant programs.)
Current Total:
Project Sources
(How will the project be paid for?)


Please initial under each statement to acknowledge your understanding:

Application Checklist and Supplementary Materials

    - Complete this online application, or contact CCT for a paper copy
    - Two (2) detailed, itemized quotes from licensed and bonded contractors for all eligible expenses:

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