A new grant will help businesses affected by phase one of Denison’s upcoming renovation project prepare for upcoming construction.

The city will begin phase one of what the city calls Designing Downtown Denison, or D3, early next year, and in order to help businesses prepare, the Denison Development Foundation, a non-profit organization, is providing a non-matching $2,500 reimbursement grant to fund alley access improvements.

A news release issued by the DDF, a primary concern stakeholders have expressed to the city is the limited front door access that will take place during the construction of the project. Local businesses have asked for assistance with funding to improve customer access in the alleys.

The funding is an extension of the city’s Activate the Alley’s project that has seen a number of changes in recent months to make the alley ways behind the businesses on Main Street more friendly to the pedestrian traffic that will soon have to rely on those to access the businesses on Main Street.

DDF Chairman Aaron Schimtz said timing is important.

“This DDF D3 Alley Access Grant will help businesses before, during, and long after construction is complete,” Schmitz said. “Businesses will be reimbursed for improvements both inside and outside to enhance the connection of their buildings to the alleys and the improvements will continue to benefit these businesses for years to come.”

This is a DDF partnership with Denison Main Street which will be handling grant administration.

“DDF has been a great partner and supporter of our downtown for many years,” Denison Main Street Director Donna Dow said. “So it comes as no surprise they are really stepping up to alleviate some of the burden on our businesses to help with alley access. You certainly wouldn’t find this in every community.”

The first phase of the D3 project includes three blocks of Main Street. The $80,000 grant will fund a little over $25,000 per block on average.

Dow said the grant applications will be accepted through Oct. 31.

“Denison’s Main Street department is encouraging businesses to ensure their back doors identify their business to make it easier for customers to find them,” Dow said. “Some have identification already, some don’t. The city is working with them to ensure each business does. The city is also working to make sure all the alley’s are well lit.”

Dow said the murals along the buildings as well as art on the dumpsters is all part of making the alley’s more inviting to customers. She said the city also renamed several of the alley’s in anticipation of this project to denote a specific theme at each section of the downtown area. She said all improvements made using the grants still have to go through the city’s historic preservation process to ensure compliance. Businesses that will be affected by phase one of the construction will get priority in the new grants.

Construction is set to begin early 2020. Once it does much of Main Street will be completely revamped with the roads and sidewalks seeing major construction renovation. The city has been preparing for this since 2016.

Do you think the city is doing enough to get the public ready for these new changes? Let Denison area reporter Richard A. Todd know by sending an email to rtodd@heralddemocrat.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @RichardAToddHD.