FOLEY – More buildings in Foley’s historic downtown area are getting exterior improvements through the city’s grant program to improve facades.

The Foley City Council has approved the latest two requests for facade grants. 

The council approved a facade grant for the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce building on North Alston Street. The grant is for up to $14,820.

The money will be used for a new door, awnings, brick and mortar work, chimney flashing and landscape work around the foundation. 

The two-story brick building was constructed in 1925 as the Foley Masonic Lodge. It served as the lodge for about 50 years. The city of Foley bought the building and gave it to the chamber in 2021.

The council also approved a grant for up to $9,300 for Lisa Miller Oral Facial Surgery on West Laurel Avenue. The money is intended to help pay for slab and foundation work as well as paint and shutters for the building at the intersection of South Pine Street.

Mayor Ralph Hellmich said property owners also provide their own money for the work. Under program guidelines, the owners of the property must pay at least half the cost of the work. 

“Thank you all for doing the work on your building,” Hellmich told grant recipients at the Sept. 18 council meeting.

Councilman Charles Ebert III said more property owners are using the program to make improvements in the downtown area.

“It’s good to see the business utilizing this facade program,” Ebert said. “When we started, nobody would use it. For several years. It got used very little, maybe once a year.”

The facade grant program began in 2017. Since then, the city has awarded 17 grants for downtown businesses. 

Under the Incentive Grant Program, grants can be given for buildings in the city’s Local Historic District, National Historic District and the Foley Main Street District in the downtown area. The Foley Historical Commission had previously recommended approval of the two most recent grants. 

Facade grants are intended to encourage revitalization of private property in the districts. Work can include exterior improvements approved by the Foley Community Development Department.

Work on the projects must start within 90 days of City Council approval and be completed within six months, according to grant guidelines.

The maximum amount available for each grant is either $5,000 or $5 multiplied by the amount of square footage of the facade facing a public street, whichever is greater. Grant recipients must also agree to maintain the property.