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Mini-grant project deadline extended through March, construction wait times cited

by Tia Lyons | November 22, 2022 at 12:00 a.m.

Main Street El Dorado has extended the deadline for downtown businesses to complete improvement projects that will be funded by MSE mini-grants.

Earlier this year, MSE was awarded a Downtown Revitalization Grant (DTRG) in the amount of $25,000 from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP), an arm of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism (ADPHT).

Each year, the ADPHT and AHPP award DTRGs to local Main Street and Arkansas Downtown Network (ADN) programs for projects that have a long-term impact in local communities.

MSE typically dedicates a portion of its annual DTRG to its mini-grant program, which provides financial assistance for improvement projects that are proposed by and approved for businesses within the MSE footprint.

Mini-grants may be used for interior and exterior projects, including painting, lighting, flooring, window treatments, awnings, etc.

The MSE coverage area includes most of downtown El Dorado and extends south along Washington Avenue to the Hillsboro/U.S. 82-B.

Only businesses within the Main Street district are eligible to apply for mini-grants.

The application period for the 2022 mini-grants ended Aug. 23.

Beth Brumley, MSE executive director, said the group awarded $15,000 in mini-grants this year.

Some recipients include Purely Creative, Off the Rail Cafe, Marilyn's on the Square and the building at 215 - 217 E. Main, which formerly housed Pat's Glass and Collectibles.

Brumley said the initial deadline to complete the projects fell just before MusicFest, which was held Oct. 7 and 8 in downtown El Dorado.

MSE also hosted Airstreams on the Square and presented Scare on the Square in October -- a busy time for MSE and the Downtown Business Association.

"I extended (the deadline) to March because a lot of them could not even get quotes from contractors by October, so we awarded the mini-grants and we took pictures and will take pictures again when the projects are completed," Brumley said.

Board members lauded the work that has been done so far at the former Pat's Glass building.

The building is owned by Pete Dunn, a Virginia-based real estate developer who has familial ties in Union County.

Dunn owns other downtown properties, including the Armstrong building, which houses PJ's Coffee, and the El Dorado Federal Center, the former home of the local U.S. Postal Service.

The Pat's Glass building is historically known as the (Social) Security Building.

In September, the El Dorado Historic District Commission approved a Certificate of Appropriateness request to spruce up the building's exterior, including power-washing and cleaning the brick; removing the doors and windows and replacing them with wood and glass, storefront windows and doors; and installing new canvas awnings that will cover the storefront windows and doors and wrap the corner of the building.

A screened wall will be installed around the fire escape on the southern facade (back) of the building to prevent people from climbing onto the roof, a recurring problem that has been reported at some downtown buildings.

Print Headline: Mini-grant project deadline extended through March, construction wait times cited

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