Historic District may have grants available for fire and seismic upgrades
Community Development Director Michael Black gave a presentation to the Grants Pass City Council during their Monday workshop proposing a series of grants that would go toward the purchase of fire and seismic upgrades for historical landmarks.
Black proposed to allocate $250,000 from the Community Development Block Grant fund, which is federal dollars earmarked for community development needs, for the purpose of installing sprinkler systems or retrofitting buildings to withstand seismic activity. Each building could receive a maximum of $50,000 towards the upgrades.
To outfit a building with a sprinkler system it would cost $5 to $10 a square foot and $35 to $50 a square foot for seismic improvements. Black said these funds would not entirely bring a historic building up to current codes but it could be a catalyst to help property owners begin improvements on their buildings. By bringing these older buildings up to code, the potential diversity of businesses would expand by allowing for a night club or other high population venue since the occupancy levels would be increased.
Councilor Jim Williams said the danger during a fire amplifies if an exit door only swings inward making it difficult for people to flee and he wanted to see an outward swinging door modification added to the grant possibilities. Councilor Lily Morgan wanted to make sure the grant money could be used on historic buildings that may have a residential loft on their second floor.
Staff is researching the changes and the item will be added to a future meeting agenda.