Roanoke City Council approved measures regarding a facade grant and the historic walking trail map design at its Aug. 8 meeting.

The background

The Roanoke Facade Grant Review Committee received an application from Erica Cawley of Board + Brie for the installation of the exterior electronic building sign. The estimated cost of the project is $5,006, and the amount requested was $2,503.

A council memo stated $9,760.24 of funds will remain for facade grants in this fiscal year.

The details

As part of the historic downtown renovation and development effort, the city offers matching grants to Oak Street corridor and Byron Nelson Boulevard businesses and building owners through the Facade Grant Program, according to a city document. Facade grant funds may be used on an exterior portion of the building/sites that are visible to the public, such as signage, facelifts, front porch additions and other additions. Facade grant money may not be used for interior renovations, roof repair, or upgrades and repairs toward nonconforming signs.

The maximum award amount for an application or business is $15,000, or 50% of the project cost, said Diane B. Rice, communications and public engagement officer for the city.

What they’re saying

“Our facade grant program is the only program of this type in the City of Roanoke, and includes businesses in the Oak St. Zoning District and Byron Nelson Blvd.,” Rice said in an email. “Currently, the Roanoke City Council has allocated $50,000 in the 2023-24 fiscal year for the facade grant program. These funds are General Funds and can be renewed next fiscal year.”

What else?

In May, June and July, the Roanoke Art and History Trail Committee met with Matt Kaser of Kaser Design to share the vision of the Oak Street Historic Walking Tour Map project, a council memo stated. Over the course of several workshops and with feedback from city staff in departments including the Roanoke Visitor Center and Museum, parks and recreation, marketing, and public works, Kaser developed a plan for this project that was approved by the committee at the July 19 meeting for council's consideration.

The plan approved has a $27,000 budget.


Roanoke's Downtown Historic Walking Tour has existed since the 2008 opening of the Roanoke Visitor Center and Museum, when dedicated city staff interviewed local residents and researched primary-source records and local history books to create a walking tour brochure, Rice said. In 2022, City Council established the committee and granted a supplemental budget to fund a project aiming to breathe new life into the historic walking tour by designing and constructing artistic signage. As part of the project, the seven-member committee renamed the historic walking trail the Roanoke Route, Rice said.

Rice described the Roanoke Route as a “quick, easy, enjoyable stroll through Roanoke's unique history, and it includes a 1906 building once housing a bank, a 1915 building that briefly served as Roanoke's post office and a 1940s building used as temporary Army barracks.

“The journey is designed to help visitors remember Roanoke as it once was, and appreciate the history and local culture,” Rice said. “The committee believes the new custom artistic signage will draw more attention to the walking tour, celebrate the mix of old and new in Roanoke, and help tell the unique story of our charming Texas town.”

A closer look

The budgeted funds of $27,000 will pay for the design, fabrication and installation of an artistic trailhead sign, showcasing a map and overview of the Roanoke Route, Rice said. The site for the map is near the old water tower, centrally located on Oak Street. Funds will also be used to landscape that area and install smaller individual site markers for each of the 16 stops on the walk.

Rice added in regular public meetings, the committee has discussed how it can use this and other projects to preserve Roanoke's history, beautify its public spaces, and grow its system of trails and parks. Improvements to the trail will increase public awareness of the historical sites in Roanoke and encourage visitors to learn more at the Roanoke Visitor Center and Museum, which houses many artifacts and photos of historic Roanoke and is along the Roanoke Route at 114 N. Oak St.