Downtown Improvement Fund







Schuyler County has identified a need for a fund to support small businesses and existing building owners in improving the built environment within the four village centers of Schuyler County.  This fund will assist with façade improvements to improve the pedestrian environment and promote continued investment within the Downtowns.  The funding will be used to leverage private investment in existing buildings with a preference for projects that improve the overall main street streetscape. Through this fund, the County will welcome applications for façade projects that will result in a highly visible transformation to the exterior of the building.  



  1. Property must be located in the targeted area which includes the following: 
    • Village of Burdett: NYS Route 79 from the southern village boundary to the eastern village boundary
    • Village of Montour Falls: West Main Street, and Rt 14 [Catharine St] between Marina Drive and College Ave. 
    • Village of Odessa: NYS Route 224 [Main Street] between College Ave and the Railroad Bridge. 
    • Village of Watkins Glen: NYS Route 14 [Franklin Street] from Fairgrounds Lane to 2nd Street. and NYS Route 414 [4th Street] between Franklin Street and Decatur Street. 

        2. Property must be an existing commercial or mixed-use building.  Single Family Homes are not eligible. 

        3. Property must be covered by liability and hazard insurance.  Hazard insurance must be sufficient to cover any outstanding loans on the property and the total amount of grant funds provided.



  1. Program Awardee[s] must be the owner of the property or the tenant of the building with written approval of the property owner.   
  2. The property owner must be current with all Village, County, and school taxes for all properties owned by the Awardee in the respective municipality. 
  3. Awardees must agree to provide a minimum 50% match to their project cost. The minimum grant award will be $5,000 with the maximum award being $25,000.
  4. The property owner must have the ability/financial capacity to secure matching funds for the project and must provide proof that such funds are available for the specific project.  The property owner must verify approval of a loan or availability of cash equal to the project cost.  All program funds are provided only through reimbursement at the completion of the project.   Therefore, Awardees must also have the ability to provide financing for the entire project, until reimbursement is provided, typically within 60 days of project completion. 
  5. Within the Village of Watkins Glen, NYS approved Downtown Revitalization Initiative [DRI] Projects are not eligible for additional funding. 
  1. The project must be completed within 1 year from the day on which the agreement was fully executed.  



  1. General façade improvements and exterior structural repairs.  

Such work may include, but not necessarily be limited to, painting, signage, awnings, handicapped accessibility to storefront entrances, carpentry repairs, masonry repairs and repointing, storefront and building cornice repair and/or restoration, window repairs, and other visual improvements.  All façade work should be clearly visible from a public right of way.  Repairs to the rear façade of buildings are only eligible if such facades face a public parking lot, public sidewalk, or other public areas.

         2. Cost associated with design and engineering are reimbursable up to $2,500 or 50% of such costs, whichever is less.



  1. The refinancing of existing debt and payment of interest generated from interim financing.
  2. Payment or reimbursement for participant’s in-kind labor.
  3. Payment of any sales tax.
  4. Funds may not be used for site work or ancillary activities on the property including septic systems or laterals, roof repairs, grading, parking lots, sidewalks, landscaping, fences, or general maintenance. 
  5. Any work that, in the Committee’s opinion, is inconsistent with the character of the Downtown Area, or that is otherwise reasonably objectionable to the local municipality. 



  1. All awardees will be required to seek two competitive bids for each separate construction project or professional service to establish the reasonableness of project costs.   There must be a clear, written scope of work for the project for which bids or quotes are sought.  All bidders must have equal access to relevant information, including information on the property itself.  The process should be free of collusion or intimidation, and SCOPED will exercise appropriate oversight over the entire process to ensure that it is fair and efficient and avoids actual and perceived conflicts of interest. If the awardee chooses a contractor other than the lowest bidder, reimbursement will be based on the amount of the lowest bid. 
  2. Any selected contractor will also be required to provide proof of proper insurance, including but not limited to general liability and workers comp. 
  3. Property owners are not excluded from completing the rehabilitation work on their own properties. In-kind labor will not be eligible for reimbursement.  SCOPED nor Schuyler County is responsible for damages incurred as a result of property owners completing their own work. 



Construction Monitoring

The County and the local municipality retain the right to inspect or audit work in progress at any point.  The local Code Enforcement Officer will perform periodic inspections of renovation/construction activities to monitor adherence with Fund rules, and general project progress.  


Final Inspection

Before a final payment can be made, a final inspection will be required.  The local Code Enforcement Officer, and the property owner will all verify that the work was completed properly and is consistent with the contracted scope of work.  



  1. The Awardee is responsible for the total cost of the project upfront.  Grants will reimburse Awardees at the conclusion of the project after all costs of the project are paid and proper documentation is provided.  Awardees should allow approximately sixty [60] days for reimbursement processing. 
  2. The Awardee will submit project invoices that reflect the name of the contractor, work completed, and amount invoiced.  Corresponding canceled checks, money orders, or credit card receipts for these invoices will also be required.  Payments made in cash will not be accepted for reimbursement.  It will be the Awardee’s responsibility to maintain and provide all of the required documentation. 
  3. Reimbursement is subject to execution of a final Building Inspection and Certificate of Completion.



Businesses and/or properties owned by a county officer or employee, or his or her spouse, minor child and/or domestic partner are ineligible for this program in order to ensure there is no conflict of interest in the administration of this program.  For purposes of this section, ownership of a business or property shall be deemed to include any owner, joint tenant, tenant in common, tenant by the entirety, partner, member, director, officer, management employment and/or ownership or control of more than 5% of the business’ outstanding stock.    Applicants will be required to complete a Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form to determine if a conflict of interest exists.  If there is a question or ambiguity as to whether a conflict of interest does exist, the Schuyler County Attorney will make a final recommendation to the program administration.



Each awardee will be  required to submit, as a condition of the award, satisfactory comprehensive insurance that names the County of Schuyler and its officers, employees and agents [collectively, the County] and Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development and its officers, employees and agents [collectively, SCOPED] as Additional Insured in connection with the work being performed pursuant to the program guidelines and requirements of the Fund. Notwithstanding the limits of any policy of insurance provided or maintained by the awardee shall defend, indemnify and hold harmless the County and SCOPED from all claims, actions, suits, liabilities, damages, awards, costs and expenses (including, without limitation, attorneys’ fees) of every nature and description arising out of or related to the work being performed pursuant to the program guidelines and requirements of the Fund, or arising out of or caused by any act, omission, or negligence of myself officers, employees, volunteers, or agents during the construction period.



Each project will be reviewed by the Schuyler County Main Street Improvement Fund Review Committee made up of representatives from the Schuyler County CDNR Committee, County Administrator, Planning Department, SCOPED.  Projects will be selected based on the impact their project will have on the Main Street environment.   


The following criteria will be used to score each project:

  • Readiness – Proposal includes proof of readiness such as a signed lease/proof of ownership, documentation that financing for 100% of the project is in place, etc. If any architectural/engineering services have been completed or initiated.  Evidence of current bid for construction services.  [up to 40pts]. 
  • Physical Impact – The completed project will be a highly visible transformation, the building is prominent on the block or in the community, the number of commercial units being renovated [up to 30pts]. 
  • Economic Impact - More than minimum match leverage, Projects that bring a property “back on-line” by improving the building façade.  [up to 30 pts]. 
  • Additional Bonus Points may be awarded to projects that include:
    1. Co-location of with other projects [up to 10pts]
    2. Improved Signage [up to 10 pts]