Throughout 2016, Marietta Main Street's Design Committee explored ways to support downtown property owners in their desires to maintain historic buildings with care in our commercial district. The outcome of this exploration led to Build Up Marietta, a facade improvement grant program that launched in July of 2017.
Thanks to the support of the Marietta Community Foundation and 22 donors, the Build Up Marietta jury rewarded $6,000 to four different property owners downtown, leveraging a total investment of $27,000 in property care in 2017.
Across 14 applications, Main Street received a total request for $38,558 which, if able to be fully funded, would have leveraged a total of $85,293 in property care downtown. With the funding awarded, the Build Up Marietta program quadrupled each dollar toward investment downtown.
The Build Up Marietta jury was made up of local experts across a variety of fields. Administration of the City of Marietta sat on the jury as well as local artists, architects from Pickering Associates, downtown business owners, local property owners, and those with a focus on quality design for a historic downtown.
Cristie Thomas, Executive Director of Marietta Main Street, facilitated the jury's discussions that ultimately led to awarding funding. "Our jury did not have it easy with these applications. The decision to fund four of the 14 applications we received was quite difficult. Most of the applications we received were eligible for funding, and of those eligible, every single one was worthy of attention."
Ultimately, the jury awarded funding to four downtown locations: 180 Front Street, 105 Putnam Street, 106 Putnam Street, and 119 Second Street. The selection of these four applications did not come easy, but ultimately the priorities were given to visual impact and location.
"We wanted to maximize the impact on downtown so we chose projects that were spread out in the C4 District, had a strong visual component, and would be completed fairly quickly. I was very pleased with the outcome and look forward to seeing more projects supported though future rounds of Build Up Marietta!" shared Ryan Smith, member of the jury and downtown business and property owner.
In their application for grant funding, Colby Ferraris of Promanco shared that their project at 106 Putnam Street is part of a comprehensive plan to inject a fresh look into their three neighboring buildings on that block.
"We share a great pride in the preservation and renovation of Historic Downtown Marietta. Promanco has invested a lot of time and money contributing to the overall appearance and integrity of our buildings, and it is our long-term goal to continue providing this level of care," shared Ferraris.
The importance of well-maintained buildings as key contributing factors to an inviting, vibrant downtown was an understood principle for Build Up Marietta awardees. Larry Hall, owner of 105 Putnam Street and Baker & Baker Jewelers, captured the opportunity to improve his facade in correlation with their 99th Anniversary as a business.
"Keeping historic buildings such as ours in excellent repair is vital to presenting and preserving the beauty and history of our downtown," shared Hall.
Not only did Build Up Marietta applicants want to increase the beauty and appeal of their facades, but one applicant in particular was focused on ensuring their building integrated with the historic feel of downtown.
"Using laser-cut acrylic lettering for our company logo fits with the design and feel of other businesses' signage in downtown Marietta. It also fits the style and period of the building much better than a backlit sign," shared Joe Wesel, leader of American Producers and one of the owners of 119 Second Street.
Moving forward, Marietta Main Street continues to field phone calls from downtown property owners who are interested in this program, which indicates a clear need for this program.
"Downtown property owners and business owners are aware of their needs to beautify and maintain our historic buildings, but financial resources are the stumbling block. We all win when historic buildings are preserved and our downtown is loved," says Cristie Thomas.
Thomas continues, "Build Up Marietta shows business owners and property owners that a body of local leaders are willing to invest in their vision for a well-designed, positively contributing building. And, Build Up Marietta offers an incentive to potential new small business owners to choose our downtown over other locations based on the level of support we are equipped to offer them."