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The Gilroy City Council on Jan. 23 approved a program that aims to give downtown property owners a funding boost to improve their buildings.

The program would provide a matching grant of up to $5,000 to improve a building’s facade. In addition, another $5,000 grant is available for projects that remove blight from vacant buildings, such as plywood from windows.

Also, the program allows for a $5,000 reduction in building and planning fees, granted certain conditions are met.

Councilmember Fred Tovar questioned whether the $100,000 the city set aside for the program is enough.

“Instead of $100,000, why don’t we double it so we give every business an opportunity to apply for the funding to make an impact on our downtown?” he said. “I think $100,000 is a great start, but I don’t want to be back here a year from now saying we need to do more.”

Some council members expressed concern that a few entities, which own multiple downtown buildings, could receive the majority of the funding, as was the case the last time the city offered such a program. The council agreed to cap the number of times a single owner could apply at two, while incorporating a 90-day period between subsequent grant applications.

The facade and blight removal program will run through Jan. 31, 2024, while the discounts will be available for permits issued through Jan. 31, 2025.

On a split vote, the majority of the council agreed to discuss forming a downtown standing committee at the Feb. 6 meeting.

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.



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