Choptank Charlies | Dorchester County EDA

Easy, efficient and cost-effective improvement program

Hailed as easy, efficient and cost-effective by both applicants and economic development managers, the façade improvement program has enjoyed great success in Cambridge. Easy to apply and gain approval through a simple application; efficient in helping property owners with costly renovations; and effective in creating inviting, attractive communities, the city recently decided to expand the nature and location of eligible projects and properties.

“While the façade program has been one of our most popular incentives, we’re always looking for ways we can make it even more effective,” said Cambridge Economic Development Director Natalie Chabot, adding, “thanks to the City’s recent actions, more businesses and homeowners could be eligible for these reimbursable grant funds.”

One small business owner who recently completed a qualifying façade improvement project is Jack Hegleson, proprietor of Choptank Charlie’s. The house wares, collectibles and artworks store occupies a small, visible space in the 500 block of Poplar Street. Hegleson applied and was approved to ‘dress up my plain storefront which didn’t stand out against the beautiful backdrop of this historic town’ by adding new awnings, storefront sign and window boxes to his year-old business.

Since 2012, Cambridge has received $100,000 for this program and has seven commercial and residential applicants in the pipeline including Realerivival and Choptank Charlie’s façade improvement projects. The program’s success led the City to increase the boundaries for qualifying properties and nature of qualified improvements.

Based upon a $15,000 limit, Cambridge residential owner-occupied properties are eligible to receive up to 65% – or $9,750 — for qualified projects. Businesses can receive 50% or up to $7,500 for qualifying projects. All eligible façade improvement projects are funded on a reimbursable basis after being pre-approved on a first come, first serve basis.

Choptank Charlie’s $1,950 façade improvements make his storefront shine. “Every penny counts when you’re running a small business,” Hegleson says, “the program is brilliant and eases the burden of adhering to costly historic preservation standards.”

For a complete list of eligible streets and details on the application process, contact the Cambridge Economic Development Office at 410-221-6074 or Sherise Mobley, Maple Street Coordinator at 443-477-3237.