Some downtown Fairmont storefronts to get makeovers in the next 12 months

·3 min read

Sep. 23—FAIRMONT — Several buildings around downtown Fairmont are getting a facelift.

Main Street Fairmont continues its progress in supporting downtown businesses. With help from its sponsors, Main Street was able to bring together over $30,000 in grant money that will all go to businesses and developers who are working to restore historic buildings downtown.

Six projects were given $5,000 each as part of the grant. To qualify, the owners had to match the grant with their own funds, bringing the total investment into downtown to at least $60,000 with this grant alone. The recipients have 12 months to complete the work.

"A lot of times, facades are the last thing a building owner will try to repair. If a light goes out, or a roof leaks, you have to fix it," Main Street Director Dan Swiger said. "Usually, facades are at the bottom of the list, but we felt it was very, very important to improve the look of downtown and to help these businesses improve what they see about them first."

Five of the six award recipients were willing to be named — East Side Story, a developer working on several properties on Merchant Street, Loving West Virginia, a clothing and speciality merchandise shop moving onto Monroe Street, Springston Real Estate, a new resident on Adams Street, Inspired Vision, an optical lab on Fairmont Avenue, Orange Goat Developers, the owner of the old post office on Fairmont Avenue.

Several of the developers recently won awards from Main Street for their work in revitalizing downtown.

For the business owners, the grant money will make all of the difference in their repairs and renovations. Evan Chapman, co-owner of Loving West Virginia, has been working the last several months to give the inside of 219 Monroe St. a complete overhaul.

Now with the grant, the outside of the building will get just as much attention as inside.

"Renovating a building [from] 1901 is very expensive and we've dealt with 120 years of changes and old renovations," Chapman said. "We have a couple broken windows in the front we'll be able to replace. We have glass broken in the front door that we can fix now. We're also planning to repaint the trim on the front. Overall, it will make the building more inviting for customers."

Storefronts and facades of small businesses are some of the most important aspects that bring in new customers. Chapman said many of the repairs and changes needed for the front of the building would have been put off until other parts were repaired. Now they have the funds to bring it all together.

Just down the road from Monroe Street, Inspired Vision, another newcomer to Fairmont's downtown business scene, also was awarded the facade grant.

Inspired Vision opened in January and has worked to make its mark, but owner Amy Graham didn't have the spare funds to make her ideas take shape until now.

"This will let us install a glass retail door, more lighting on the outside that will match the historic feel of the building while giving customers light during the winter months. Overall, it will have a huge impact on letting customers feel welcome into the business," Graham said. "We've really wanted to do these things, but the grant made it possible. It would've been delayed by probably a year without this money."

Reach David Kirk at 304-367-2522 or by email at dkirk@timeswv.com.