NCDI Frequently Asked Questions

Please review the Request for Proposals as it will answer most questions.

All questions related to the proposal forms, funding allocations, and supporting documentation for RFP response may be submitted in writing via email to to Facade@stlouis-mo.gov no later than August 8, 2018.

No questions will be taken or answered by mail, telephone or by direct contact with a Neighborhood Business Development staff person.


Request for Proposals

How can I get a copy of the RFP?

Answer:  The RFP is available online at  www.sldcfacade.org/RFP

 

How do I submit my Proposal Application Profile?

Answer:  The RFP Proposal can be emailed to Facade@Stlouis-mo.gov  or by mailing the RFP to Facade Application-Attn. Leonard Johnson-1520 Market Street, Suite 2000-St, Louis, MO 63113 or by hand delivering the Application to the above listed address labeled Facade Application, Attn. Leonard Johnson.

I own more than one building or have more than one business location. How do I apply for more than one property?

Answer: If you are the owner of a single property with multiple addresses, such as a commercial strip center, i.e.. Maple Street 3514 – 3520 then you would submit a single proposal for 3514-3520 Maple.  However, if for example you owned three separate stand alone properties at 3514 Maple, 3518 Maple and 3520, the you would be required to submit a RFP proposal for each to the three separate addresses.

The rating sheet gives points for being adjacent to other applicants. How do I know this? How will that be determined?

Answer: During the review period, we will note the location of all projects and group them into block groups when possible. If an Applicant is aware of nearby businesses or properties who are also submitting applications, the Applicant can note this in the “Other Comments” section of the Applicant Profile.

Do I need to, or should I, get a bid for the project to fill in the estimated cost?

Answer: A contractor’s bid is not a requirement in order to fill in the estimated project cost in the official RFP Application.  The RFP is only attempting to get a reasonable estimate as to cost of the requested improvement/(s). Please keep in mind however, if you do solicit a bid from a contractor prior to your project being selected, the contractor who furnished you the bid will be deemed ineligible to provide a bid with respect to the official RFP bidding process.  If you feel you cannot make a reasonably intelligent estimate as to your project costs, you can always consult someone who might be knowledgeable with helping you come up with a reasonable estimate of costs.

I completed a part of the application online. Can it be saved so I can finish it later?

Answer: No, the application cannot be saved online.  If not completed the application should be printed out or emailed to an email address that you can access and then completed at a later time.  However, be advised that once you close the template RFP form online, you will lose all the information that was on the form and you will then have to start all over.

Do I need to get Architectural and Engineering drawings before I apply? Are drawings, sketches or renderings required for my  Profile? Can I use prior drawings?

Answer: Answer:While drawings and/or renderings are always helpful neither are required in order to submit your RFP Application.  If Architectural and/or Engineering drawings later become necessary after your project has been selected for funding, depending on the determination of the Façade Review Committee, you may be able to use your existing drawings.  However, if your drawings are older than one year, the architect and/or engineer who originally sealed your drawings will be required to update their respective seal.

If I am currently negotiating the purchase or lease of a property, should I apply?

Answer: If you are currently leasing a property you are considered eligible to apply. If you are negotiating a purchase/lease and are not currently occupying the property, you should apply once you have a lease agreement or deed of trust to a property.

How do I find out the LMI (Low-Moderate Income) percentage for my property?

Answer: Your LMI percentage is determined by the physical address of the property using the most current US Census Tract Data available at the time of application. This will be reviewed and noted as part of the the review process once your application has been submitted.

Funding & Financing

What is the funding source for the grant?

Answer: The Façade Improvement Grants are financed through the funding provided by the Community Block Grant Funding financed by U.S. Department of Housing And Urban Development (HUD).  These funds are administered on behalf of HUD by the Community Development Agency (CDA), Department of the St. Louis Development Corporation. CDA acts as a Sub-Contractor for HUD and is charged with overseeing  and enforcement of all Federal Regulations governing the disbursement and other uses of HUD related funds that are used to finance programs that are sponsored by the St. Louis Development Corporation.

What is the maximum possible grant amount within a NRSA, outside a NRSA, and/or if I am paying 50%?

Answer: The maximum amount of all Grant allocations, under the current RFP Guidelines is $20,000.00 dollars.

Is there a minimum grant amount awarded?

Answer:   No, there is no minimum amount for a Grant request.  However, Grants under $2,000.00 dollars are not required to be administered under the Davis-Bacon Prevailing Wage and Hour Rules.  However, the minimum requirement of (3) bids would still apply in all cases unless certain extenuating circumstances would merit consideration for an exception. .

What may be accepted as sources of matching expenditure (my portion of the private investment) for my half of the grant?

Answer: Any legitimate expenditure made on your facility within the last three years could be applied to meeting the Applicant’s private investment requirement.

Does the grant have to be reported as income on federal or state tax return?

Answer: In all cases when an Applicant receives a Grant benefit from the Facade Program, it is advised to consult a CPA and/or other qualified tax consultant in order to legally determine how the receipt of a Facade Grant would impact their tax liability.

What if I am not ready to apply? When is the next funding cycle?

Answer: Ideally the program has been set up to accommodate a new RFP cycle every (6) months. However, funding ultimately will be guided by how the Facade Program receives funding from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

What other grants, funding, or resources are available if my business/building is not eligible for this program or not selected to move to the next phase?

Answer: The Facade Program is the only Grant Program administered by the St. Louis Development Corporation.  However, there are a number of other resources that can be made available through other programs administered by the St. Louis Development Corporation. SLDC will sponsoring a Community Forum showcasing the Wide range of programs it offers to assist businesses in the City of St. Louis on:  August 14. 2018, at Launch Code at 4811 Delmar Blvd, at 6:30 P.M.

Target Areas / Priorities

What areas of the City of St. Louis are targeted / the top priority?

Answer: The top Program priorities are the five designated Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Areas (NRSA) with special consideration being placed on the commercial Hubs located within each of the five NRSAs. For a further detailed description of each of the the five NRSAs, please refer to the maps on the SLDC website.

If my building is not located in one of the NRSAs, is there a chance the project would be selected?

Answer: Any business that is located in the City of St. louis, in an area that is at least 51% residential, and 51% low-to-moderate income, based on the most recent Census tract data, is eligible to apply for program assistance. Our project rating tool allocates more points and prioritizes businesses that are located in a NRSA .

Eligibility

What areas of the City of St. Louis are eligible for this grant?

Answer: Any business that is located in the City of St. Louis, located within an one-mile radius that is at least 51% residential, and 51% low-to-moderate income, based on the most recent Census tract data, is eligible to apply for program assistance. Our project rating tool allocates more points and prioritizes businesses that are located in the NRSA .

Can an Applicant submit a project that has already been completed or is in progress?

Answer:  No, any project that is completed and/or is in the process of being completed but is being performed outside of the RFP Guidelines is deemed automatically ineligible due to HUD federally mandated Regulations.

Are nonprofit organizations eligible for this grant?

Answer: In most cases a nonprofit organization may apply for program assistance; however, there are several businesses that will not qualify for our program such as schools and institutions, religious organizations, political organizations, payday loan stores, title loan companies, other predatory lenders, businesses whose sales are at least 75% alcohol, firearms, and/or tobacco. A full list of ineligible businesses can be found on page 5 of the RFP (See Ineligible Businesses/Buildings).

Are tenants of commercial buildings/spaces eligible for this grant?

Answer: Tenants of commercial buildings/spaces are eligible to apply for program assistance as long as such Applicants are applying with the building owner’s approval of the proposed Facade Improvement.

Could a publicly held property that is leased for business purposes be eligible for funding?

Answer: Tenants of commercial buildings/spaces that are held publicly are eligible to apply as long as such applicants are applying with the approval of the concerned jurisdiction’s approval of the proposed Facade Improvement.

What parts of a commercial building/space are considered eligible?

Answer: Program funds can be used for exterior improvements to the front of commercial spaces only. Typical improvements include storefront renovations, painting, lighting, windows, doors, and awnings. A full list of the eligible improvements can be found on page 6 of the RFP (See Eligible Improvements). Note: exemptions will be made for improvements that are needed for compliance with the provisions set for in the Americans With Disability Act (ADA).

Is work on the residential portion of a commercial building/space eligible?

Answer: No. Work on the residential portions of a commercial building is ineligible. The only exception is when a new storefront is being installed and there are major structural changes being made to the front facade and repairs have to be made to all areas affected by the new construction.

Does a commercial building/space need to be occupied by a business?

Answer: Generally, commercial buildings are expected to be occupied in order to be considered eligible for consideration. However, an exemption is granted in certain cases where the approved occupancy permit and move-in by tenant is based on completion of the program improvements. In this case, a letter of intent or lease should be submitted by the Applicant. Businesses must occupy the improved building/space within 30 days of the facade work completion.

My commercial building/space has previously received a facade improvement grant, would my building/space be eligible to receive this funding again?

Answer: Past program participants are eligible to apply for grants three years after receiving a previous facade grant at the same location. An exemption may be granted only if the property is located in a redevelopment area that is currently undergoing major development at the time of application.

Are sidewalks eligible for funding?

Answer: No.  Applicants are encouraged to seek assistance through the City of St. Louis’ Street Department’s 50/50 Sidewalk Repair Program

Is landscaping eligible?

Answer: Yes. Landscaping is an eligible improvement, but it will be given the least consideration and priority. Due to limited funding, we are prioritizing other major projects with dramatic structural and/or visual impact such as storefront renovations and painting.

Is demolition eligible for funding?

Answer: No.  Due to federal HUD guidelines, demolition is not considered an eligible improvement.

Is work on upper floors of a multi-story commercial building eligible for funding?

Answer: Possibly. Work performed on any part of the exterior building must serve a commercial purpose, for example, if the business is operating on both floors funding can be used for the upper floors. On the other hand, if the upper floors serve a residential purpose funding will not be allocated for the residential half.

I own a home-based business, is my residential house eligible for improvements?

Answer: No.  While you may receive a permit to use a portion of your residence as being your home based office, your residence is not considered a commercial structure, which therefore renders your residence ineligible for funding.

How will I know if architectural/engineering drawings are required? If yes, when do I need to procure them? Does the firm providing those need to be licensed in the City?

Answer: If your project is selected for funding, the Facade Committee evaluating your project will determine if architectural and/or engineering drawings are needed.  However, all drawings submitted by an architect and/or engineer, must be submitted by an architect and/or engineer who is registered with the State of Missouri.

Why is roofing and tuckpointing not eligible? What if they are visible from the street?

Answer: Roofing, though at times can be visible from the street, is not eligible per federal HUD guidelines and is considered routine maintenance.

Is a daycare considered an ineligible institution or is it eligible?

Answer: Yes. A daycare is considered an eligible business under the NCDIP Guidelines.

Is a lease required if the business owner is also the building owner?

Answer:  No.

Can improvements be made to the vacant lot where I run my business?

Answer: Traditionally, NCDIP funds have not been used on vacant plots of land that is privately-owner. In some cases, lots can be considered for public improvement funding. Interested lot owners should apply for funding, and each project will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

License Requirements

If I am the owner of a commercial building/space applying for funding, am I required to have a business license?

Answer: Yes, all building owners who are using their property for commercial purposes  are required to have a City of St. Louis Business License in order to legally operate any building for commercial purposes. For further information regarding the requirements for  licensing commercial business establishments can be obtained by contacting the St. Louis Development Corporation’s Business Assistance Center (BAC). The BAC has specially trained agents who are expert in assisting existing and new business owners to navigate through the City of St. Louis’ Business Licensing Process.

As a business owner, do I have to have a current business license in order to apply?

Answer: All businesses seeking assistance through the Facade Improvement Program are required to have a current City of St. Louis Business License. However, a prospective applicant who wishes to apply and does not have a current City of St. Louis Business License can still apply but must come into compliance with all of the City of St. Louis’ Business Licensing Requirements within 30 days following submission of the applicant’s application.

If occupancy is required for issuance of the business license, the business must apply and pay prior to work and be issued a license within 30 days after completion of the facade work.

Bidding Process

If my project is selected to move onto the bidding process, how do I find a contractor?

Answer: SLDC will make a reasonable effort to assist Applicants in finding qualified contractors; however, it is the ultimate responsibility of each Applicant to find and secure bids from qualified professionally licensed contractors including making a genuine and substantiated effort to solicit bids from qualified Minority and Women Owned Businesses. SLDC does not take responsibility for the contractual agreements made between the Applicant and any contractor who has been hired to perform services with respect the scope of work on any Facade Project.

How many bids are required? Will the award always go to the lowest bidder?

Answer: There are (3) bids required and generally the bid is awarded to the lowest bidder.

Who contracts with the selected contractor?

Answer: The Applicant will execute a contract with the contractor.

Do I need to or should I get a bid for the project to fill in the estimated cost?

Answer: No, a contractor’s bid is not a requirement in order to fill in the estimated project cost inthe official RFP Application.  The RFP is only attempting to get a reasonable estimate as to cost of the requested improvement/(s). Please keep in mind however, if you do solicit a bid from a contractor prior to your project being selected, the contractor who furnished you the bid will be deemed ineligible to provide a bid with respect to the official RFP bidding process.  If you feel you cannot make a reasonably intelligent estimate as to your project costs, you can always consult someone who might be knowledgeable with helping you come up with a reasonable estimate of costs.

What is meant by a “competitive bid process”?

Answer: This sentence refers to the process by which we are using the RFP process to award projects instead of the first-come/first-serve process. It also refers to process you must use when selecting a contractor for your project.

Other

What are the Historic Guidelines which need to be followed?

Answer: Historic Guidelines are quite broad and depend on a number of variables such as 106 Federal Historic Guidelines, Local Chapter 99 and 100 of the City Code, any area that has been placed on the Federal Register of Nationally Historic Places and other local historic districts that have enacted specific regulations which pertains to their specific districts.  If you have a specific historic guideline question, then you are encouraged to contact the Cultural Resource Department of the St. Louis Development Corporation at 314-657-3867.

Does length of time I have been in business matter? Will I be recognized for being in business in the City for (XX) years?

Answer: The length of time your business has been operating is not a requirement of the RFP Process.  There are other City sponsored events that recognize the achievements of certain business but that is not one of the objectives of the NCDIP.

What is the Promise Zone? Does it matter for funding?

Answer: The Promise Zone is a Federally designated area where a number of federally subsidized programs are promoted and given priority status for federal grant funds/programs. For the most part, most of the neighborhoods including in the Promise Zone are also in our target priority area.

What is the timeline from Application deadline to payment and completion of the project process? If accepted, how long do I have to complete the project?

Answer:  Depending on the complexity of the project, the project could take anywhere from 4-6 months or longer.  This timeline is largely influenced by how effectively the Applicant responds to various requirements during application process all the way to construction and completion of the Project.

Is it a loan or a grant?

Answer: In short our program provides forgivable grants. The term loan is used, because of the language that is in the formal contract the Applicant must execute in order to received funding through the NCDIP.