Officials in Hudson and Marlborough are teaming up to seek federal funding that would pay for road reconstruction projects and the renovation of business signs and facades.
The neighbors are filing jointly for up to $900,000 through the Community Development Block Grant program. The money would come from the US government, but the grants are awarded by the state Department of Housing and Community Development.
The local officials are planning to ask for about $275,000 for road repairs in each community, a total of around $200,000 for the sign and facade renovation program, and approximately $150,000 in administrative costs.
“It’s a competitive grant, and if you go with another town, you get a couple of extra points,” said Anne Marie Blake, finance manager for the Marlborough Community Development Authority. “The grants are so, so competitive, and our need score is so low, that it was to our benefit’’ to partner with Hudson.
Michelle Ciccolo, community development director in Hudson, said it was a requirement of the joint application that it involve similar projects in both communities. “In order to get the benefit of doing a regional project, you have to do the projects together and bid them together,” she said. “Otherwise you don’t get any economies of scale.”
In Marlborough, officials want to reconstruct Kirby Street, a narrow road off of Elm Street, while in Hudson officials want to redo a stretch of South Street downtown. The sign and facade program would provide matching grants to commercial landowners who want to spruce up their building exteriors in targeted areas — in Marlborough, the French Hill neighborhood and downtown; and in Hudson, downtown and a stretch of Washington Street (Route 85) roughly between Broad and Houghton streets.
Sign and facade projects up to $10,000 would receive 75 percent of their funding from the grant money, with the remainder paid for by landowners. Larger projects would be eligible for a 50 percent match.
“That’s fantastic,” said Ken Fries, who handles leasing and acquisitions for RK Centers, a Dedham-based real estate company that owns around 500,000 square feet of commercial space in Hudson and Marlborough. “The tenant will see a bump in sales. There’s no doubt in my mind that it will be money well spent.”
Fries said Marlborough’s downtown is currently uninviting to regional and national retailers considering new locations.
“It doesn’t look like Concord or Newburyport or Hingham,” Fries said. “It kind of has a bad feel. You get used to it over time. You don’t notice. But to an outsider, if you have a choice between Concord, Hudson, and Marlborough, you’re going to go to Concord. The displays are great. Marlborough doesn’t have that. Hudson doesn’t have that. Not yet.”
“There’s other sections of Main Street that have upgraded, and I think their businesses look far more appealing to their clientele than this building,” said Paul Griffin, who owns a commercial property on Main Street in Marlborough that houses his own construction consulting business, along with a Brazilian market, hair salon, and phone store.
Griffin said he’s interested in participating in the facade program, with the cost of rehabbing the exterior of his building perhaps reaching $100,000.