Kilgore City Council approved a downtown building rehabilitation grant for a property located on Rusk Street at their Sept. 28 meeting.
Director of Special Services B.J. Owen introduced the grant proposal to council. It was filed by Mitch Moehring, owner of Moehring Strings, for the property at 115 S. Rusk St.
“The Downtown Building Improvement Program is set up to encourage economic development through helping people with the grant for different things — for fire safety, life safety and ADA improvements on our buildings. They’re eligible for a reimbursement of up to $40,000 on work, which is based on half of the work they do, to improve fire safety and accessibility for these projects,” Owen said.
Owen said Moehring bought the location at 115 S. Rusk, which used to be the Western Auto building, to move his shop from its current location at 116 S. Kilgore St., next to the Crim Theater.
The total cost of the project is $19,755.78. Total grant funds requested are $9,877.89.
Moehring applied for the grant to help with the cost of adding ADA bathrooms, which will be accessible for both sides of the building, including the 115 and 117 S. Rusk St. addresses.
Grant funds are also slated to be used for the installation of a fire door which will separate the two sides of the building.
“The majority of (the project cost) is plumbing,” Owen said. “With these old buildings and their plumbing, there’s no way around it, you have to bust up the floor for that.”
He added, if the grant was approved, work would begin on paperwork, signage for the property and the construction project itself.
Council unanimously approved the grant request.
The Downtown Building Improvement Program was launched in 2019 in an effort to revitalize old buildings in downtown Kilgore which need updates and rehabilitation.
Because many of these projects can include plumbing work, fire safety system installation and façade revitalization, all of which can be very expensive, the grant helps property owners tackle the costs of rehab projects.
With a total grant of up to $40,000 per application, equal to 50 percent of the total eligible project cost, building owner-grantees will receive a 50 percent direct reimbursement (cash once the project is completed), and the remainder of the granted funds will be a regular rebate. That will include 50 percent of new incremental property and/or sales tax paid annually for up to 10 years or until the rebate amount is satisfied, whichever comes first.