Federal grants have now been secured to fund improvements to historic commercial structures in three New Mexico cities.
The funding is coming through the expansive Main Street America program and is going directly to the state’s New Mexico Main Street effort.
As so defined, grant funding of up to $25,000 will specifically go for façade improvement to buildings in downtown Deming, Gallup, and Silver City.
The funding is particularly significant for New Mexico because New Mexico Main Street is one of only four programs in the country participating in the launching of what is being called the Main Street Façade Improvement Grant Program.
In a statement, Alicia Keyes, New Mexico’s Economic Development Secretary, noted that the restoration of historic buildings within the defined Main Street districts in all three cities will help those communities “reach the goal of full economic recovery.”
The Main Street Façade Improvement Grant Program was launched earlier this year with the support of a nearly $750,000 grant from the National Park Service’s Historic Revitalization Subgrant Program.
Ongoing funding for the program comes from federal oil lease revenues in the Outer Continental Shelf.
According to the parameters of the street façade effort, funding can be directed for everything from awning and window repairs, storefront rehabilitation, lighting restoration, and signage, among other things.
Targeting buildings that mostly went up during the late 1800s and early 20th century, the façade improvement effort is designed to bring back either the grandeur or clean simplistic look of the buildings’ original design.
Many of the structures in question underwent upgrades in the 1970s and 80s that saw the addition of modern facades and awnings now thought to have obscured the original grace of the buildings.
In a COVID-19 economy, recipients of the façade improvement grant emphasized the redevelopment potential of the funding. “This will contribute so much more than aesthetic upgrades," said Kara Smith, the director of the Gallup Main Street Arts & Cultural District.
Continued Smith: “It will help drive economic development while ensuring that we take care of our greatest assets in the process.”
By Garry Boulard
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