The City of Independence has announced a newly developed grant program to assist downtown building owners with necessary property repairs. The Central Business District Commercial Building Grant will offer qualifying building owners matching funds for 25 percent of costs associated with approved structural and exterior improvements. The grant program applies to all commercial buildings located in the city’s designated Central Business District (C3 zone), and the application period will run November 14, 2016 through January 13, 2017. The Independence City Commission has approved $100,000 of current City funding, as well as an additional $100,000 in the 2017 budget, to aid building owners in bringing their properties into compliance with the city’s new minimum maintenance standards ordinance, which will take effect January 1. April Nutt, Independence Housing Authority director, is assisting the City with coordination of the grant program. “This is a special and timely opportunity for commercial property owners,” Nutt said. “We learned through the recent professional inspection services offered by the City that most buildings in our business district are well maintained. However, they all are aging, and many could use some TLC to keep them safe and structurally sound.” Nutt explained the grant funding will match only actual dollars associated with “hard” costs of building improvements, such as repairs to foundations, floors, roofs, load-bearing walls, windows and exterior brick. “Sweat equity” will not qualify as a property owner’s share of the investment, she noted. Additional requirements under the program include maintaining sufficient property insurance coverage and proof of paid taxes; submitting repair plans in advance of any improvement work; and advance approval of repair plans by the Independence Historical Preservation and Resource Commission. “While there may be a few necessary ‘hoops’ to jump through, we’ve worked hard to develop a fairly simple process for grant application, and our staff will help applicants navigate each step,” Nutt said. Once the application deadline closes, a grant review committee will be formed to finalize the awards, which Nutt expects to be announced in February 2017. Grant applications are available at temporary City Hall, 811 W. Laurel (second floor) and also on the City’s website, www.independenceks.gov. More information is available by contacting Nutt at 620-332-2536.