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Friday, December 5th, 2008

Celina secures $400,000 grant to redo downtown

By William Kincaid
After several attempts, the city of Celina has been awarded a highly competitive $400,000 state grant for downtown building improvements.
Celina Planning and Community Development Director Kent Bryan on Thursday said Celina is one of only six municipalities in Ohio to receive the substantial award, issued as an Ohio Department of Development Small Cities Community Development Block Grant.
Downtown property owners will be eligible to use portions of the grant money and their own matching money to make physical improvements to the front of buildings and to make code improvements, such as structural, mechanical and roofing projects, Bryan said.
The money can also be used for public infrastructure, Bryan said.
The capitol improvements will make the city's downtown more viable, he said. The real key is for property owners to improve these buildings and lease them out, he added.
Thirty-three property owners already signed on for the project. After state contract and environmental paperwork is completed, Bryan said improvement projects will probably start in June.
The city has two years to spend the money.
This was the third time Celina applied for the revitalization grant.
"Being persistent; don't give up and keep going back," Bryan said of the city's success.
Also, Bryan said Poggemeyer Design Group was instrumental in getting the award. Poggemeyer was hired by the city this spring to complete the two-phase grant application process for $30,000.
The city's newly hired downtown manager, Deborah Borns, will be an advocate for the downtown property and business owners and help them in anyway to make the downtown better, including promotion and marketing, Bryan said.
Bryan said the position may be long-term, but he did not know whether it would remain with the city or be shifted to a non-profit city organization.
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