The Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission will consider at its Sept. 11 meeting recommending city council adopt a program similar to Soldotna’s Storefront Improvement Program.
Soldotna first implemented its program last year to “revitalize” businesses and storefronts along the Kenai Spur and Sterling highway city corridors, according to the program document. The program aims to promote development of key areas and support local, diverse business.
Kenai Mayor Pat Porter said revitalization is Kenai’s goal, too, in considering the project.
“Sometimes you learn from your neighbors,” Porter said.
Last year, Soldotna funded three local businesses as part of the project, said Stephanie Queen, Soldotna director of economic development and planning. The program funds the business improvements from a city’s general fund, she said.
With project money last year, River Terrace RV Park repainted its buildings, installed new flag pole covers and adjusted its sign to comply with city zoning; The Fitness Place overhauled the front of its building; and Mykel’s Restaurant & Lounge and the Soldotna Inn replaced old siding, Queen said.
This year, Soldotna allotted $15,000 in its project coffers, and each project is capped at $5,000, Queen said. The city will aim for accomplishing three projects this year, also, she said.
If Kenai adopts the project, Porter said upgrades will benefit businesses around Willow Street, along the Spur highway and among Old Town Kenai. Many businesses would like renovations but can’t afford the upgrades, she said.
Alice Kerkvliet, owner and manager of Mykel’s Restaurant & Lounge and the Soldotna Inn, said that was the case for her buisness.
The program, she said, jumped the improvements to the “front of the table.” Kerkvliet’s buisness would have had to otherwise wait several more years, she said.
Soldotna’s program reimburses businesses 50 percent in costs spent to improve its exterior, according to the document. Eligible businesses must be located on land zoned commercial or limited commercial. Eligible work includes improvements to signs and graphics, canopies and awnings, painting and masonry, permanent landscaping, windows, exterior lighting, and accessibility, according to the document.
Queen said the program was popular in its first year, and many businesses applied.
“I think it’s a good thing to have,” she said, “and as long as we see the community benefit, we’ll continue to have it.”
The program, though, is a small portion of the city’s overall beautification and economic development plan, she said.
The Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission meets at 7 p.m. in City Hall, 210 Fidalgo Ave.
Dan Schwartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.