Low Rate Loans For Wealthy Area

August 29, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — Huntington Bank has stepped up with the offer of low interest loans to business owners who want to spruce up their buildings in the historic Wealthy Street Theatre district.

Called the Wealthy Street Neighbor hood Façade program, business owners can use the loans for either interior or exterior projects.

The initiative represents an economic development partnership among the Wealthy Street Business Alliance, the Neighborhood Business Specialists Program (NBSP), the city, Huntington Bank, Grand Rapids Community Foundation and the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

About 75 businesses are located in the Wealthy Street Theatre Historic District, which runs roughly from Fuller to Union avenues on the east and west, and from Fairmount to Sigsbee streets on the north and south.

Huntington has a bank branch on the corner of Wealthy Street and Fuller Avenue in the district.

“It’s a curb-appeal type of program that we’re really excited about. We’re very pleased that Huntington Bank has taken this initiative,” said Sharon Evoy, executive director of the Neighborhood Business Specialist Program and the Downtown Alliance.

“We have such an asset in the building stock of that area and some really beautiful buildings,” she added.

“Wealthy Street has such a long history. A lot of people are saying they can’t wait to see what the area looks like when the road and the façades are done. This is just one more piece to bring all of the different elements of this revitalization back together.”

The Grand Rapids Chamber supports two façade programs. Under NBSP, $5,000 grants are available to business owners for building improvements. The MainStreet program offers $3,000 grants for capital improvement projects. 

As an example, Evoy pointed out that if a business owner wanted to undertake a $20,000 improvement project, he could get $5,000 from NBSP, $3,000 from the MainStreet program and get a low interest rate loan to cover the rest of the project. 

Under the program, a business owner can apply to Huntington Bank for a loan of between $5,000 and $200,000 for an interior or exterior capital improvement project. All loans are subject to credit approval.

Loan terms are up to a maximum of 10 years on loans less than $100,000 and 15 years on loans of $100,000 to $200,000.

“When we put together the facade improvement program, we brought a lot of partners together,” Evoy recalled.

“This kind of extends the impact the program can have.”

The rate will float monthly and be based on the LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) index, plus 3 percent. For example, if the LIBOR index were at 1.32 percent, the loan rate would be 4.32 percent.

LIBOR is the interest rate offered by specific London Banks for U.S. dollar deposits of a stated maturity.

Angela Alexander, a business banker with Huntington, said when the bank moved to the historic district it decided to be part of the façade program because it was a neighborhood effort.

Launch of the loan program on Aug. 14 was well received, she noted. A few people have already expressed interest in participating.  

The program will be available through July 2004 and could be renewed at that time if it’s needed, Alexander said.

Business owners in the district who might be interested in the program can contact Alexander or Renee Williams at Huntington.

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