New funds available to improve upper floors of downtown Middletown buildings

Downtown Middletown buildings will benefit from a new state grant program and matching funds from local sources to renovate spaces on upper floors.

Jeff Payne, DMI executive director, said his organization was recently awarded a $20,000 grant through the Heritage Ohio Main Street Program. Heritage Ohio, Ohio’s statewide sponsor of Main Street USA programs, has secured an Ohio Capital Projects Grant to provide $20,000 to each of the 40 Main Street Program participant organizations across Ohio.

Payne said DMI was working with the city and Middletown Moving Forward to set up a local building redevelopment program for the 2020 program year, which is needed to receive the funds.

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“DMI is looking to the future, which includes attracting more people to live and work downtown,” Payne said. “We’re trying to target smaller development projects that would be handled by existing property owners and smaller contractors … We hope this perks up interest in downtown Middletown.”

Officials hope that interest includes more people staying later hours at restaurants and businesses, which could more easily happen if they live or work nearby.

Last week, Middletown City Council approved an emergency resolution to enter an agreement with DMI and provide up to $50,000 in matching funds for the Heritage Ohio grant. Council voted 4-0 with Councilwoman Ami Vitori abstaining.

Acting City Manager Susan Cohen said the funds could only be used for residential development of the second and third floors of downtown buildings.

These grants continue the city’s efforts to rehabilitate downtown spaces, said Matt Eisenbraun, assistant economic development director. DMI will focus on providing funds to smaller rehabilitation projects of one to six units that can include ground-floor commercial rehabilitation projects. The projects that receive these funds must be finished by March 2021.

Heritage Ohio may offer additional funding to those programs which have other funds readily available and can seek more, beyond the initial $20,000 offer, by the May 31, 2020 deadline.

More information, applications and other instructions for a Request For Proposals can be obtained from Payne via email at

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