Eminence Beautification

Serafin Rivas (L) , owner of Rivas Masonry in Shelbyville, was joined at Barmore Realty in Eminence by city councilman Fred Downey (center) and Mayor Doug Bates (R) while a Rivas Masonry crew worked on one of the beautification projects under consideration for city funds.

When the Eminence city council approved setting aside $35,000 annually to provide matching funds for improvement projects to downtown building exteriors, the idea was to invest in the community for the future.

“I’m hoping over the next two years, the little old town will be looking a whole lot better,” said councilman and city beautification committee member, Fred Downey.

The city’s program for beautification of building exteriors started last year with work at the Puckett’s Ford Prep building and recently extended to the Barmore Realty building on South Penn Ave.

“Last year, we put $35,000 in, we only used $5,000, and that was on the Puckett’s building,” said Downey, adding that the city program provides up to a $5,000 match per project for costs incurred by the property owner.

“The city only pays for exterior cosmetic improvements to the structure itself,” he said.

However, the exterior work doesn’t have to be the only improvement to the building. Downey explained that the property owners can also undertake interior and other exterior work like roofing and still qualify for the matching funds, provided that the city funds are used for street-facing exterior work.

“If they put $5,000 worth of work on the inside, we’ll put $5,000 on the outside of the structure,” he said.

“We’re just trying to make Eminence look better.”

The qualifying exterior work would be for “anything that’s visible from the roadway” and includes both building fronts and backs of buildings visible from a street, added Downey. Applicants for the funds submit them for review by the city’s beautification committee, which was scheduled to meet Tuesday to review additional applications currently under consideration for this year’s funds.

Downey estimated that this year’s available amount remains over $30,000. He said that that funds from this year’s amount were used for one project to improve the unused building next to Puckett’s Food Prep, which he said owner Jeff Downey plans to build a recording studio in the back of the building and a business for music lessons offered in the storefront space.

Even if this year’s funds are all used, the future of the program appears to be in place.

“We hope to continue that program if we have buildings that qualify,” said Mayor Doug Bates.

Downey encouraged building owners to pursue the funds in the future whether or not this year’s funds are all spent.

“They can come in next year, and we’ll renew the money until we get everything in town looking nice,” he said.