To spur economic development downtown, the City of London is offering incentive packages to help retail shops and restaurants overcome the cost of renovating old buildings, or constructing new ones.
The incentive packages began September 1 and apply to new as well as existing retail shops and restaurants. London joins other cities like Pineville that are offering, or planning to offer, incentives for downtown development.
"We have to do this to stay on par with other communities in Kentucky that offer incentives," said Brittany Cradic, co-executive director of the City of London Tourism. "This is going to spur a lot more business downtown, and that's something the community has made abundantly clear it wants. We're doing everything we can to make it happen."
City of London Tourism has set aside a pool of money to fund the incentives. Cradic said city attorney Larry Bryson confirmed tourism funds can be used for the purpose because "downtown is a tourist attraction. It's called heritage tourism."
To develop the incentives, Mayor Troy Rudder appointed a committee consisting of Cradic, Paula Thompson, Brittany Riley, Steve Berry, Daniel Carmack, Steve Baker and Bill Dezarn.
"It's been a team effort and we're happy we can now help retail shops and restaurants join us in making downtown London a vibrant place to eat and shop," Cradic said.
The incentive packages consist of three tiers: (A) new businesses that lease or lease/purchase property, (B) new businesses that purchase property, and (C) existing retail shops and restaurants.
The first two tiers offer incentives up to $5,000 that can be used for mortgage or lease payments, advertisement reimbursement or signage/facade expense. There is also no charge for water, sewer, garbage and recycling for six months.
For tier B, new businesses won't have to pay city property taxes for five years, and can also use the $5,000 for creation of apartment or living space.
For existing retail shops and restaurants, a $2,500 incentive is available as a 1-1 match for improvement or additions, including signage and facade.
Cradic said she already has an application for the incentives from one business, and has heard from others who plan to apply.
The application for the incentive program can be found at londonky.gov.