Ashley Hernandez is proud of all the changes she’s made to her building at 139 Olive St. As she stood in the front yard looking over the new landscaping and pointed out where the new porch swing will go, she talked about how the city of Keller’s facade improvement grant program helped her make the changes happen.

“We were already doing a lot of renovations here,” Hernandez said. “The front was kind of the last piece that we were going to do. We had already invested a lot of money in this building, and we had a limited budget on what we could do. When I found out about the program, and that we qualified for some of those pieces, that’s when I applied for it.”

The pieces on the front of the building she talked about included new landscaping, a new porch swing, new flower boxes and painting the front walkway.

The details: According to a city website, the facade improvement grant program provides grants in the form of a reimbursement of up to $10,000 for eligible improvements to facades in the city of Keller. Participants are eligible for up to one grant in a 12-month period from completion of previous grant.

Other requirements include:
  • Must be an existing building/site located in the city limits of Keller
  • Property must be free of city liens or delinquent property taxes.
  • Applicants must not be past due in sales tax remittance.
  • Building/site must be for commercial use in nonresidential zoning districts.
  • A complete application must be received and verified by city staff before construction can begin on improvements included in the grant request.
According to the city website, for consideration of the grant, improvements are required to be on the exterior and visible to the public without accessing the business itself. Improvements must also comply with zoning district design standards of applicable zones and all applicable state and local requirements. Eligible improvements include:
  • Painting, trim work, cladding
  • Front porch additions and enhancements
  • Exterior lighting
  • Window replacement and window framing
  • Hardscape improvements, such as sidewalk pavers, concrete off-street parking, fencing visible to the public and lamp posts
  • Landscaping improvements, including the design, installation and permanent maintenance components such as irrigation
A closer look: Hernandez, who runs an event space, a creative space that features a podcast studio and space for pop-up shops and a membership-based group for co-working/co-sharing with women entrepreneurs and business owners in the building, admits that she had some insider information about the grant program even existing.

“I learned about it through another business owner that’s in Old Town,” said Hernandez. “I actually serve on the [city’s] economic development board now, so I got to learn a little bit more about what they’re looking for.”

Sorting out the details: Economic Development Director Mary Meier Culver said that applicants must submit a complete application before any work is done in order to be eligible. Applicants can start work after that point (before council makes its decision), but Culver generally recommends that applicants wait to do any work until after council has considered the request.

“The city staff is incredible,” Hernandez said. “Any questions you have, they’re right there to answer along the way. Any question that arose they got back to me right away. So, it’s been a little bit more of a collaboration.”