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Downtown Sylvania improvement loans OK’d

$100,000 set aside to help revive the city’s district

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Jeff Langenderfer, president of the Sylvania Area Community Improvement Corporation, said the organization can help its members with financing involved in the downtown’s revitalization.

THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH
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The nonprofit Sylvania Area Community Improvement Corporation has committed $100,000 in loans to help revive the city’s downtown district.

President Jeff Langenderfer said the organization can provide gap financing to eligible business owners who partake in the city’s revitalization program.

The organization, comprising 45 Sylvania city and township businesses, voted to allocate the funds for the downtown district more than five years ago, said Bill Sanford, the group’s co-executive director and the city’s economic development director.

In the spring, Mr. Sanford applied for a $300,000 federal Community Development Block Grant to rehabilitate buildings downtown. The city recently adopted a set of standards that were required to be eligible for the grant.

The program is to help the preservation of historical look and features of buildings, according to the U.S. Department of Interior Web site.

If the grant is awarded to the city, funds would be distributed to qualifying property owners after improvement projects were completed. Mr. Sanford expects to learn about the grant award this month.

“Downtown owners may want to make improvements, but may not be able to finance it,” Mr. Langenderfer said.

The loans provided through the program are usually for less than $50,000 and have a 1 percent interest rate, with a five-year pay back. The Community Improvement Corporation members vote annually on the loan interest rate.

The CIC was created more than 40 years ago primarily to provide businesses with low-interest or no-interest loans and grants for infrastructure projects, such as installing water and sewage lines on undeveloped land so businesses could easily move in. Today, the organization has focused on solidifying the Sylvania area’s business base and mainly lends to industrial businesses, not retail, for start-up or expansion funds.

“We completed a survey several years ago where everyone agreed that in order for the prosperous region you have to have a strong downtown,” co-director and township administrator John Zeitler said.

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or ntrusso@theblade.com, or on Twitter @natalietrusso.

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