The Star-Herald

Take part in a refreshed downtown

Downtown areas have historically been the center of business trade and social interactions for many Maine communities including Presque Isle.

Revitalizing downtowns became a keen interest of policy makers and community leaders across the country during the 1970s and ’80s as trends illustrated how reinvesting funds into the aesthetic, historical and cultural features, as well as improving traffic movements and pedestrian safety, paid dividends into building a better sense of community by increasing commercial, tourism and social interaction activities within downtowns.

Since the 1980s, Presque Isle has not seen a major investment project in the downtown since new curbing, parking layout, sidewalks, trees, decorative street lights and benches were installed over a two-year period. It is time for a refresh of our community and beautiful downtown, which is why the city of Presque Isle’s Department of Economic and community Development (PIDEcD) is pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications for the Presque Isle Downtown Facade Loan Program (PIDFLP). 

This new facade program will be the primary catalyst of larger downtown redesign conversations that will take place between downtown merchants and various stakeholder groups as we prepare for a potential multimillion redesign project that will holistically transform how our downtown serves visitors and residents in Aroostook county. I would like to share with you an overview of the PIDFLP program to better understand how this new opportunity could be a wonderful partnership between the city, downtown merchants and property owners. 

The PIDFLP has been the product of efforts by the city to adopt a 30-year downtown redevelopment plan. The PIDFLP offers tenant businesses and property owners in the downtown area a no-payment, no-interest forgivable loan for facade improvements in an effort to revitalize our historic downtown area.  Funds requested must match at least 50 percent of the total project cost and funds requested are capped at $25,000 per property. Tenant businesses looking to improve their leased space are required to obtain permission from the property owner. 

Loans will be secured on the property improved for values of $5,000 to $25,000. Loans requesting less than $5,000 may be unsecured as determined by the Presque Isle Development Fund trustees. After 10 years of continual ownership or tenant occupation (depending on terms), the city will forgive the loan and release any collateral. If the property is sold, or the tenant business moves from the location before the expiration of the terms, the city will recoup funds at a pro-rated rate of 10 percent for each outstanding year remaining in the terms of the agreement. 

The PIDFLP is now open and accepting applications until July 6, 2022. Preliminary scoring will take place by economic and community development staff before the scoring confirmation by the PIDF trustees at their July 20 meeting. A public hearing and confirmation will follow at the Aug. 3 city council meeting. Any applications submitted afterwards will not be scored until awards have been made for the first phase. Businesses and property owners are encouraged to submit their applications and speak with staff before the deadline to avoid submission delays. 

For a complete application, please visit: presqueislemaine.gov/planning-development, call meat 207-760-2727, or stop by the economic and community development offices on the first floor of city Hall. 

Galen Weibley is Presque Isle’s director of economic and community development. He can be reached at 760-2727 or via email at gweibley@presqueisleme.us.

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