Facade Loan Program
How to Apply
Facade Loan Program applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Property owners who are interested in taking advantage of the Facade Loan Program are encouraged to reach out to the Economic Development and Long-Term Planning Division to discuss their storefront improvement plans and determine if their project might be eligible for the program.
About the Facade Loan Program
Created by the Town in May 2010 to enhance the unique aesthetics and identities of Brookline’s eight commercial areas, the Facade Loan Program encourages businesses and property owners to undertake improvements to their commercial storefronts. Similar storefront and facade improvement programs have been utilized for decades in communities across the country, and are widely considered to be impactful economic development tools.
Case studies have shown that even small investments in a property’s exterior can positively impact a business’ sales and ability to attract new customers. These enduring benefits can be amplified when businesses invest simultaneously in exterior improvements, interior improvements, and marketing initiatives. (Welty, 2015)
Beyond returns to the individual business, facade and storefront improvements also create broader community benefits, generating increased sales and foot traffic at adjacent businesses and prompting additional interest in nearby vacant storefronts and commercial spaces. Gains in community pride and civic appreciation, as well as motivating neighboring property owners and tenants to undertake similar improvements are two other commonly identified benefits. (Facca, 2013)
Brookline’s Facade Loan Program and Project Selection Criteria
The Facade Loan Program seeks to reduce the financial burden to businesses and property owners considering investing in storefront improvements. Applicants can apply for up to $10,000 in a 0% interest rate loan. Funds are dispersed once the project is completed. A nominal administration fee is due upon approval of the loan and loans are repaid annually in four equal installments.
Submitted applications will be reviewed and scored based on criteria outlined in the Facade Loan Program application. Aligning with the Town of Brookline’s commitment to promoting accessibility and climate action, projects that include energy efficiency upgrades and/or investments in accessibility, which exceed the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board (MAAB) standards, will be given priority. Brookline’s ADA Coordinator, Sarah Kaplan, describes the Facade Loan Program as an important tool for building a more inclusive and accessible Brookline:
"Many Brookline storefronts remain inaccessible to some persons with disabilities. Although businesses and property owners want to make their establishments accessible, they often lack the resources needed to invest in these improvements. The Facade Loan Program helps address the issue of physical access by providing an additional financial resource in the form a 0% interest rate loan of up to $10,000. I encourage all members of the Brookline business community to take advantage of this program in order to make their businesses more accessible and inclusive of all."
Facca, A. (2013, October 28). How Facade Improvement Programs Can Benefit Your Community. Retrieved from Planners Web: http://plannersweb.com/2013/10/how-facade-improvement-programs/#return-note-10538-1
Welty, E. (2015, May 28). Measuring the Economic Impact of Storefront Improvements . Retrieved from Main Street America : https://www.mainstreet.org/blogs/hl-admin/2017/05/11/measuring-the-economic-impact-of-storefront-improvements
Façade Loan Program Showcase:
The Arcade Building - Coolidge Corner (2015)
Loan Amount: $10,000
Key Project Components:
- Accessibility improvements:
- ADA and MAAB-compliance using motorized door closers and push panels to operate the historically accurate entry doors;
- Accessible entry ramps.
- Energy-efficiency initiatives:
- High-efficiency exterior and interior LED spot lighting;
- Split-ductless HVAC system;
- Thermally-broken, high-efficiency storefront glazing.
- New signage to conform to Town of Brookline commercial signage guidelines.
“The Arcade Building - one of the few remaining retail arcade structures on the East Coast - has been through several significant modifications and renovations over nearly a century of operating in Coolidge Corner. One of the key priorities in the next phase of the restoration and modernization of the Arcade Building was reconstruction of its Harvard Street facades. Over the years, its commercial storefronts have undergone multiple transformations; the most recent ones from the 60s and 70s, leaving a disharmonious and schizophrenic visual street-front impression.
The vacancies of two businesses at the end of 2014 provided a rare opportunity for Leeder Management, the owners of the Arcade, to invest in a modernization effort that both brought the building up to code while bringing it closer to its original facade design. The project consisted of a complete demolition and removal of two facades at 314 and 318A Harvard Street.”
– Derrick Choi, project architect
“Four years ago we began rehabbing two storefronts in the Arcade Building. While going through the planning process we were informed about the Façade Loan Program. The $10,000 we received was very helpful because it allowed us to pay for some upfront costs prior to receiving a loan from our bank. Once we were in repayment, the Town of Brookline sent us repayment notices well in advance of the due date which allowed us time and flexibility in planning our repayment. The process, funding and repayment were made as easy as possible.”
– Walter Laughlin, Jr., Vice President/CFO, Leeder Management Co., LLC.
The Village Works – Brookline Village (2016)
Loan Amount: $8,000
Key Project Components:
- Accessibility improvements:
- Added push panel-operable accessible door in existing opening
- Accessible entry ramp improvements
- Improved appearance of storefront in historically contributing building
- Provided second egress
- Added signage to conform to Brookline Village signage guidelines, approved through Facade Review process
Project Description & Program Testimonial:
“202 Washington sits in the center of Brookline Village, dating back to the 19th century. It's had several uses over its history before sitting unoccupied in the years before The Village Works took over the space. Our team's renovation has allowed the building to be used as shared office, meeting space, and community space. The appearance from street level was essential to our vision of a beautiful and welcoming anchor business in the Village. The highly-visible building's renovation was complex and costly to us as a new business.
The Town of Brookline Economic Development Planning team reached out to say that our project could be eligible for a facade loan and encouraged us to apply. The program enabled us to invest properly in our accessible entry and make much-needed repairs and upgrades to our facade. The loan also showed our local support and helped us win a grant from MassDevelopment. We are proud of our contribution to our lovely, historic neighborhood. Two years later, we continue to receive positive feedback about the building's appearance.
The repayment process has been simple and easy. We would absolutely recommend other Brookline businesses to apply to the Facade Loan Program.”
– Melissa Tapper Goldman, Co-Founder, The Village Works