Façade program continues to improve Marshfield’s downtown
By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — Through a joint program involving Marshfield’s Economic Development Board (EDB) and Main Street Marshfield, the buildings that skirt the historic Central Avenue continue to be improved.
The changes are made possible by the Façade Improvement Program, a grant project that dates back to 2009.
“It actually started in late 2007, early 2008,” said Jason Angell, director of development services for the city of Marshfield. “It was the 2008 Strategic Plan where they identified three different subcommittees to be developed to help advance different things. The one that did the façade program was the Community Development Subcommittee.
“One of the things (the subcommittee addressed) was to come up with a project that would have a visual impact on the downtown.”
The Façade Improvement Program was launched using $50,000 in funds designated by the city. Interested business owners could apply for funds, which they would match, to beautify and enhance their buildings.
“The first two years of the program, the boundaries were from Veterans Parkway to Fifth Street and only the portion of the building that is facing Central Avenue,” added Angell.
The overwhelming response encouraged organizers and the city to expand the Façade Improvement Program, adding funds and enlarging the coverage area.
“People started to see the visual impact that was being made,” said Angell.
“In 2011 we extended the program to all properties within the downtown TIF (tax incremental financing) district, which takes it from Jack’s Bar or Associated Sales & Leasing all of the way down to Ninth Street. We also added (any project) facing a public street,” he said.
As the program progressed, Main Street Marshfield and the EDB stepped in and took over the funding through their annual budgets.
From 2009-2014, the program administered grants for 44 projects, implementing $2.2 million of improvements through public and private funds.
“In 2016 the program was changed again to allow for the rear façades, so the alleyways were considered a public right of way for the basis of this program,” said Angell.
“(This year) the EDB initially contributed $65,000, and Main Street put in $10,000,” added Main Street Marshfield Executive Director Angie Eloranta. “We had so many applicants that we decided to put more money into the program so we could help out more businesses and encourage them to make those improvements to their buildings.
“So Main Street put in an additional $5,000, and the EDB put in an additional $35,000 for a total of $115,000.”
Eloranta received 13 applications from downtown TIF district businesses, of which 10 were approved.
Through the 2016 program, Baltus Car Wash, Marshfield Monument, and Frayed Knot Salon have made changes to their front and rear façades; Goodfellas Pub added a patio to its rear façade; and Nutz Deep II has made enhancements to its front façade.
Improvements by approved applicants continue.
“We’re glad that we have been able to assist them in doing this,” said Angell. “It not only helps to preserve the structures that we have downtown, but it helps to improve the overall image of the downtown.”
“I would say Marshfield was definitely a leader in the state as far as the façade program,” said Angell. “There are other communities that have done the program but not at the levels that we have.”
(Video courtesy of Chris and Erin Howard)