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Published: Friday, 6/30/2006

Michigan towns get money to help restore facades

HILLSDALE, Mich. Two downtowns in Hillsdale County will receive money through federal Community Development Block Grants.

Hillsdale will receive $75,000 for facade restoration at the historic Keefer House hotel. Constructed in 1886, the building belongs to retired dentist Dr. Jeffrey Horton, who will match the grant and plans to revitalize the vacant property into a mixed-use facility with apartments, stores, and restaurants in the five-story landmark at Howell and North streets.

The tax increment finance authority is also providing matching grants of $5,000 apiece for downtown businesses to improve their storefronts. Two buildings in the same block have had their facades stripped this month, in preparation for restoration to historical origins.

Downtown Reading will receive $164,000, to be matched by $60,729 in municipal and tax increment finance authority commitments, plus $103,742 from business owners.

Eight historic storefronts in the downtown area are targeted. Most of our storefronts are at least 100 years old, Reading City Manager Kim Blythe said yesterday. In addition to cleaning and tucking and pointing the brick and painting signs, the work will involve adding handicapped access and reconstructing some foundation.

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