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Heal Grants for Downtown Buildings – A New State Program Can Help Specific Types of Building Rehabilitations

Jessica Buchholz by Jessica Buchholz, Events Coordinator | November 10, 2021
HEAL Program

The Historic Economic Asset Lifeline (HEAL) grant was recently announced by the Kansas Department of Commerce. This program was developed “for the revitalization of underutilized, vacant, or dilapidated downtown buildings through the Historic Economic Asset Lifeline (HEAL) program. The grants are intended to bring buildings back into productive use as spaces for new or expanding businesses, childcare, housing, arts and culture, civic engagement, or entrepreneurship”.
So, what does that mean? Here are some of the bullet points you should consider:

  • Properties must be located in cities with a population fewer than 50,000.
  • Properties must be located in the downtown business district or corridor and hold architectural significance for the district.
  • Properties must show potential for reuse and revitalization as economic drivers in the community.
  • Projects submitted with supporting engineer and/or architect report(s) that verify an urgent need and opportunity for revitalization will be considered in the Emergency HEAL round between November 8 – 19. A decision on Emergency HEAL awards will be made by November 23. Construction must commence by February 1st, 2022 for Emergency HEAL projects.
  • Pro-forma and business plan for building use is required to be submitted with the application. However, if applying for Emergency HEAL, the Secretary of Commerce has discretion to extend the deadline for this requirement.
  • 1:1 match minimum must be secured no later than September 30, 2022, after receiving a notification of intention of award by the Kansas Department of Commerce. If the match is not secured by September 30th, 2022, the HEAL award will be forfeited unless an extension is granted by the Secretary of Commerce.
  • The awarded project can include funding from any state or federal source, as long as there is no duplication of benefit. Examples include: Community Development Block Grant, Community Service Tax Credit Program, USDA Rural Development, State Historic Preservation Office programs, or Network Kansas programs.
  • Project must incorporate Main Street Design Standards and follow local ordinances and code for rehab/ construction/ facade improvements. 
  • Award recipients are required to sign a contract agreeing to the conditions of the program.
  • Projects must be initiated and begin construction no later December 31, 2022. Projects must be complete within one year of the start of construction. 

What types of projects can be funded? Eligible expenses include:

  • professional services (architect and engineering fees)
  • exterior building surfaces
  • masonry
  • insulation
  • foundations
  • roofs and guttering
  • fire escapes
  • windows
  • doors
  • chimneys
  • walls
  • ceilings
  • floors
  • stairs
  • escalators and elevators
  • lighting and fixtures
  • electrical wiring
  • data and communication
  • wiring (not including equipment)
  • HVAC systems and components
  • plumbing systems
  • fire suppression sprinkler systems.

This list is not exhaustive. Project expenses not listed here are at the discretion of the Secretary of the Kansas Department of Commerce for eligibility under the grant.
So, how much is the grant?

  • HEAL is a 1:1 Grant up to $20 per square foot of the total building space, not to exceed $75,000 per project.

Businesses need a sponsoring organization that understands a few different elements that are important to the grant consideration process:

  • Main Street Design Guidelines are specific in their treatment of buildings, materials usage, and aesthetics.
  • Historic preservation, through the preservation of architecturally significant building elements are an important part of the process. Understanding the concept of architectural integrity is important for applicants.
  • This program is for building owners only.
  • Applicants need a sponsoring entity that understand all of the elements listed above (like Emporia Main Street).
  • The building owner needs a DUNS Number.
  • This grant program is meant for downtown commercial buildings that have some historic and/or architecturally significant elements intact.
  • Grants are for future work; the grants are not for building rehab elements that have been completed or will be completed prior to the grant deadline.

When are applications open?

  • NOW! It is important that you move quickly if you want to take advantage of this program. Contact Emporia Main Street for a program walk through, and you can CLICK HERE for a sample application.

Emporia Main Street does its best to inform members and the community of funding opportunities. We are thankful that the Kansas Department of Commerce, in conjunction with specific divisions like Kansas Main Street, came together to generate a necessary funding opportunity to assist our property owners!

About the Author

Jessica Buchholz, Events Coordinator

Jessica Buchholz is the Community Development Coordinator for Emporia Main Street in Emporia, Kansas. She specializes in event planning, volunteer recruitment, alternative marketing, media/public relations and fundraising. During Jessica's tenure at Emporia Main Street, she has helped grow events to an international level and she has created a series of new activities to meet organizational goals.

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