Façade Grant Program Improves Downtown Businesses

Courtesy Downtown Alameda Business Association    Alameda Bicycle received a grant from the City of Alameda to help offset the cost of its new pole sign on Park Street.

Attractive building façades (or storefronts) support and encourage local businesses. They can have a significant effect on the attractiveness and marketability of the surrounding area. To encourage business owners to reinvest in the downtown and neighborhood business areas, the City of Alameda offers 50/50 matching grants to assist them in restoring or beautifying their façades.

Each business owner or property owner makes a commitment to finance 50 percent of the cost of improvements. Improvements can include:  

• New awnings or signs 
• Refurbishment of existing awnings 
• Restoration of legacy signs  
• Exterior painting (including murals)
• Replacement of windows and doors
• Refurbishment of architectural features
• Rehabilitation of historic features
• Construction of outdoor eating areas  

Benefits of the program include increased business exposure, more attractive streets, better first impressions for businesses, enhanced property values, improved marketability of the local business area and more inviting places to walk and shop. 

Nineteen façade grants were awarded in the downtown district during the 2017-18 fiscal year, resulting in more than $240,000 being invested in the beautification of the downtown district. These are a few examples of successful projects, varying in size:

• With the support of the Façade Grant Program, The Sewing Room (2434 Webb Ave.) is now more visible from the street. Colorful new signs were installed on both the awning and the side wall facing Park Street.
• The owners of newly opened Cholita Linda (1337 Park St.) were the recipients of a façade grant that helped renovate the historic building’s façade. New windows, paint and decorations helped restore and unify the storefront after rejoining two different commercial spaces.
• The property owners of Encinal Place used a façade grant award to paint the exteriors and add new lighting for each of the businesses located at 2300-2306 Encinal Ave. The brighter façades significantly improve pedestrians’ first impressions of the entire block.
• The Façade Grant Program also helps with unexpected repairs. Alameda Bicycle (1522 Park St.) was able to replace their pole sign after the original one was damaged by a car accident.

The new pole sign brings a modern, playful look to the corner bike shop.

The City of Alameda recently reopened the Façade Grant Program with a new round of funding, including providing as much as 80 percent for new or refurbished awnings. The City also provides businesses with step-by-step guidance, vendor lists, application assistance and permit support. 

For information about guidelines and eligibility, go to the city’s website at