BATTLE CREEK -- Battle Creek Unlimited Inc. (BCU) has been awarded $2 million by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to establish and administer funds to make improvements to downtown Battle Creek.
The Downtown Battle Creek Real Estate Improvement Fund will be used to help increase vibrancy and job growth, eliminate blight and deterioration and contribute to historic preservation in the downtown.
“Businesses want to join the transformative momentum in downtown Battle Creek, but we consistently hear that many have issues finding the right space,” said Joe Sobieralski, president and CEO of BCU, in a statement. “Many of the vacant facilities downtown need to be brought up to code and dramatically improved so that business owners can move in. This real estate improvement fund helps bridge that gap in a meaningful way.”
The fund is designed to address hurdles faced by those wanting to invest in downtown. Grant dollars will be focused on fixed assets of the real estate with the goal of revitalizing vacant space, improving code compliance, structural and mechanical issues and more.
The grants will be capped at 40 percent of a project’s total cost up to $250,000. Property owners, existing businesses and entrepreneurs can apply.
According to BCU, the fund will build upon a $500,000 pilot campaign funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation that awarded funding to Record Box, a mixed-use development by Restore 269 LLC and New Holland Brewing.
“This program will create jobs while drastically improving the vacancy rate of downtown Battle Creek,” Sobieralski said. “The fund will attract more businesses to downtown – and, with an emphasis on improvements to fixed assets, will ensure these investments stay in Battle Creek. We are thrilled that the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is partnering with the community to advance economic development in Battle Creek.”
Along with BCU and the foundation, the fund is a collaboration with the city of Battle Creek and the Battle Creek Community Foundation.