Sign & Façade Grant
About the Program
The Sign and Façade Grant is a part of the Retail and Professional Services Grant Program and is funded by the City of Durham’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. The objective of the program is to assist business owners and improve the pedestrian experience by enhancing the visibility and appearance of businesses through signage and façade improvements that are physically, historically and architecturally compatible with relevant design guidelines.
The guidelines should be applicable within the 9th Street Commercial Corridor, the Downtown Development Tier (including Parrish Street),within the Community Development Area (CDA) outside the Downtown Development Tier; including targeted corridors or within targeted areas beyond the CDA or targeted areas outside the CDA. The Sign and Facade grant program has been merged into the Retail and Professional Services Grant program, but each will retain its separate application.
Note: Depending on the type and size of sign to be installed and the location of your building, you may be required to obtain any or all of the following from the City of Durham: sign permit, electrical permit, and/or certificate of appropriateness.
Sign & Electrical Permits
For information about sign permits and electrical permits email Carlos Diaz, City-County Inspections Department or call 919-560-2487.
For information about local historic districts, local historic landmarks and certificates of appropriateness email Lisa Miller, City-County Planning Department or call 919-560-4137.
Note: A certificate of appropriateness, if needed, is required prior to the sign permit and certificates of appropriateness are only required in local historic districts (i.e. Fayetteville Street Local Historic District).
- Applications must be typewritten or printed legibly.
- Applications must contain all requested information within the application as well as all requested attachments to be considered complete. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.
- Applications will be accepted by in-person or mail only and will not be accepted by fax or email.
- If you are applying for signage funds, processing of your Sign and Façade Grant application will not begin until you have received a Sign Permit and/or a Certificate of Appropriateness (if needed).
Business Requirements for Grant
- Depending on the type and size of sign to be installed and the location of your building, you may be required to obtain any or all of the following from the City of Durham: sign permit, electrical permit, and/or certificate of appropriateness (if needed).
- Façade improvements must be consistent with design guidelines, development review, streetscapes and enhancement of the pedestrian experience.
- The property owner and/or tenant will be responsible for the maintenance of the signage for a period of 5 years from the project completion or until such time as the building is sold or the tenant changes.
- The property owner must attest to non-delinquent property taxes for the property address where the sign will be installed (declare to be true that the property taxes have been paid to the current date).
Eligible Expenses for Grant
Preference will be given to street-level businesses.
- Adding lighting to existing signage to enhance the pedestrian experience - preference will be given to signage that is visible at night and that is aesthetically pleasing
- Building signage that enhances the pedestrian experience and clearly identifies the business
- Costs related to the design, fabrication and installation of signs
- Fees associated with obtaining sign permit and certificate of appropriateness (if required)
- More than 1 sign may be included on the sign grant application but the maximum grant amount is $2,500 per business or address
Preference would be given to those improvements that address and reduce slum/blight. Facade improvements must be made to the exterior of one or more sides of the building and/or property visible from a public street or municipal parking lot.
At least 50% of improvements must be attributed to costs as listed:
- Awnings, marquees, and related exterior lighting and electrical fixtures
- Exterior painting
- Exterior work necessary for conversion to a retail or entertainment storefront
- Masonry repair and cleaning
- Non-flat roof repair for portion noticeable from the public line of site
- Removal of deteriorated building materials, such as plywood or metal
- Removal of modern facades, in order to restore back to vintage quality
- Restoration, repair, or replacement of windows, doors, exterior walls, chimneys, or other architectural elements
- Restoration of vintage elements
Additional Allowable Improvements
- Parking lot improvements
- Property improvements, including landscaping, fencing, screening, and paving
Timelines / Disbursement of Funds
- Projects would need to be completed no later than 12 months after City approval.
- OEWD will not release funds for signage and/or façade improvements until the project has been completed and final approval, in the case of signage, has been granted by the Durham City/County Inspections Department. Funds will be disbursed through reimbursement upon completion of project, submission of all invoices and receipts validating the project costs and submission of appropriate documentation proving compliance (such as; copies of cancelled checks, credit card receipts, etc.)with relevant design guidelines.
- OEWD will review select evaluation criteria and determine funding award within 45 days after the submission deadline.
- The maximum incentive per business or address shall not exceed $2,500 for the signage portion of a grant and $20,000 overall. In no case shall the incentive exceed 50% of total project cost.
- Funding of any application is subject to availability.
OEWD is not currently taking applications for sign and facade grants.
Grant applications, including attachments, must be completed and returned to:
The Office of Economic and Workforce Development
807 E Main Street
Durham, NC 27701
For projects within the Downtown Development Tier call 919-560-4965
For projects outside the Downtown Development Tier, contact Reginald Jones at 919-560-4965 ext. 15207
Applications will be accepted in-person or by mail only and will not be accepted by fax or email. Technical assistance regarding the grant will be provided up to one week before the grant submission deadline. All questions related to the grant should be submitted in writing.