Have you taken a good look at The Ave lately? Our downtown district has made some new storefront enhancements over the past year with 17 properties upgraded thanks to two separate grants. First was the Neighborhood Preservation Program (NPP) grant that you have read about in past articles. This five-year grant is from the State of New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) that the City was awarded in 2022 and that Main Street Vineland is the coordination non-profit to administer the grant. There were quite a few different programs under this grant such as residential beautification, public art—Canvases on the Ave mural project, Safety program (lighting and security cameras), gift card BOGO program—The Ave Bucks, digital marketing campaign—Feet On The Ave, and the subject at hand, commercial beautification.
The second grant was from the New Jersey Main Street program, also under the DCA. This was specifically used as a commercial façade improvement program called “Operation Facelift II”. Both of these grants had a financial match required by participating business or property owners.
Within the Main Street district, and the NPP district, we had enhancements with everything from new signs or awnings to full demos and remodeling of facades. The changes are very apparent when you drive down Landis Avenue with projects taking place throughout the historic district. However, there is not a bigger evidence of the positive changes as in the 500 block. We saw 5 properties in this block get some much needed facelifts. And we aren’t done yet! Our 2023 NPP Implementation Plan calls for more funding to help our business and property owners in the district upgrade their facilities.
We are fortunate to have so many diverse and successful businesses in our downtown district. I couldn’t be more proud of the resilience of our business community who have found so many ways to pivot their businesses during what have been some very challenging times. Make no mistake about it, we have some real gems in our downtown.
It’s not just putting on a pretty face with their new façade enhancements, but it’s the mom-and-pop feel of walking into a business and being greeted by name with a smile. I greatly encourage you to come discover or re-discover our many restaurants, hair salons/barbers, retail stores, professional services, Churches and non-profits that make up the fabric of our downtown community.