Main Corridors Urban Renewal Grant policy


The Main Corridors Urban Renewal Grant (“Grant”) is established as an extension and complement to the initial Broadway Ridge Historic District Grant for Albert Lea’s National Commercial Historic District. The policy is intended to assist property and building owners that are interested in façade or site improvements that preserve the architectural character of the property, improve the curb-side appeal, and/or spur economic development along the City’s main commercial corridors. The policy also expects to ensure more energy efficiency and better compliance with any applicable building and zoning standards, as outlined in Albert Lea City Code Chapter 50.


A. To provide Small Project Grant assistance up to $30,000 to owners whose buildings or site are in need of repair or improvement.

B. To leverage private investment and provide public grant assistance to projects for façade renovation, site improvement, and preservation of commercial historic buildings and B-2 zoned properties that otherwise may not occur.

C. To stimulate renovation and preservation of historic facades and improve the building stock of the community.

D. Funds will be based on a first come and first serve basis. Funding will be awarded to no more than 10 projects per calendar year. Funding will be available starting January 1 and end on December 31 annually.


The guidelines for building or site restoration to be assisted pursuant to this policy shall include:

  1. Improvements that maximize private investment to remediate blight and hazardous materials or structures are given top preference.
  2. Façade improvements that preserve the historical character of the building or enhance the visual appeal of the property on identified corridors will be given additional preference.
  3. Guidelines for building restoration and modification can be found in Albert Lea City Code Chapter 50 and other applicable codes depending on the property and project.
  4. Landscaping improvements that enhance the visual appeal of the property from the identified corridor may be required as part of the grant approval.
  5. Improvements that promote conservation, pollution abatement (including light pollution), and improve tree canopy may be given preference over those that do not.
  6. All projects must be identified as meeting the City’s adopted Comprehensive Plan.


Projects eligible for assistance hereunder shall satisfy the following requirements:

A. Projects must consist of façade or site improvements as more specifically detailed in Section V below that preserve the historical character of the building or enhance the visual appeal of the property in the designated locations listed below.
B. Designated locations are all commercially zoned and operated property visible from South Broadway, East Main Street, West Main Street, Bridge Avenue, Clark Street, and Fountain Street.
C. Property has not received awards of City or County grants for façade repairs within 5 years of next request.
D. Property and property owner is in good standing with the City, County, and State for all previous grant awards and taxes are current.


Small project grant assistance may only be used to pay for façade or site improvements. The façade includes those portions of the building visible from South Broadway.

Projects may include:

1. Repair / replacement of windows and doors
2. Masonry repair / replacement
3. Awnings
4. Exterior lighting that meets “Dark Sky” standards
5. Signage
6. Painting, siding and other exterior wall improvements
7. Architect’s Plan and Estimate
8. Other approved exterior improvements
9. Roofs that no longer meet code, are incorporated in the façade improvements, or are a potential hazard to preserving the structure.
10. Parking areas that incorporate landscaping, improved ADA-compliant design and/or improve stormwater diversion/retention
11. Interior modifications required to complete façade improvements.
12. Landscaping improvements as visible from South Broadway or improve stormwater diversion/retention.

A. Eligible grant match expenses

  1. Expense for all eligible projects as defined herein.
  2. Expenses for all permanent interior renovation and improvements including but not limited to: creation of new apartment or office rental space; drywall repair; electrical repairs; energy efficient HVAC; fire suppression/warning systems; flooring, foundation repair; interior lighting; interior painting; lead, mold or other interior hazardous material removal; plumbing; restroom/bathroom renovation/installation; stairway repairs/improvements; suspended ceilings; and water heaters.

B. Ineligible Improvements. Expenditures that do not add to the historic character or visual appeal of the property such as tinted windows, inventory and equipment, operating expenses, non-fixed improvements, and general maintenance are ineligible for grant funding and may not be used to satisfy grant-match requirements hereunder.


A. Small projects grant funding was established through contributions from the City of Albert Lea and Freeborn County. The City Manager may choose to use other sources to fund projects under this program subject to City Council approval. There may also be loans depending on the owner’s long term objectives and ownership plan.

B. Small Projects Matching Grants: The maximum grant in support of a qualifying project for any one building shall not exceed $25,000, and matching funds in amount in an amount equal to or greater than the amount of the grant must be committed to the project. It must be determined by an architect, structural engineer, or the building official that there are no structural issues with the building proposed to be improved with the grant, such that the building should not be rehabilitated as proposed. A property owner who uses the matching grant may apply for additional grant or loan funds as long as the maximum of $25,000 in matching funds is not exceeded during the life of the structure.

C. The final amount of the grant award will be determined based on the actual dollar amount of the matching funds committed to the project, the final design of the project as built, and the extent to which the improvements provide a public benefit. The City Planner or appointed staff may require changes to the Grantee’s proposal to be eligible based on historic preservation, code compliance, and public benefit.

D. Fees and Taxes: Grantees are responsible for their own legal and other professional consultant fees associated with applying for and making the Main Corridors Urban Renewal Grant, as well as for legal and professional consultant fees incurred by the City in making the grant. All property taxes and applicable special assessments installments on real property owned by the applicant in the City must be current on the property and are not eligible for payment from Grant funds.


A. Interested owners/businesses shall set a meeting with the City Planner’s Office or staff to review the potential project, discuss eligibility, and review the application process and grant policies.

B. The property owner or a business owner, with the property owner’s approval, may obtain the Grant application from the City Planner’s Office. Applications shall be submitted to the City Planner’s Office, 221 E. Clark St., Albert Lea, MN.

C. In order for a grant application to be considered complete, the applicant shall provide the following documentation and take the following action:

  1. A completed application form, signed by the property owner of record, together with design plans illustrating the proposed work.
  2. A registered set of improvement plans and an itemized estimate of listed improvement components.
  3. Explain or illustrate how all exterior code violations will be remedied as part of the project.
  4. A legal description of the property to be improved.
  5. Complete financial information documenting the source(s) of private funds needed to satisfy matching funds requirement herein and successfully complete the project. The owner is required to pay contractors in full and Grant funds will reimburse paid contractor invoices up to 50% of the invoice; however, the total payments shall not exceed the grant amount established in the Construction Award/Grant Agreement. The owner shall show the source of funds for full payment of the contractor.
  6. Schedule a project review meeting with the City Planner’s office and submit the application. A review will be scheduled with Building Inspection staff at which the applicant will have an opportunity to discuss the project. An on-site visit may be requested.
  7. Any additional information determined necessary and requested of the applicant by City staff.
  8. Receive a favorable project recommendation from City staff.
  9. Execute the Construction Award/Grant Agreement prior to the start of any improvements for which grant assistance is to be provided.
  10. Submit Grant payment requisitions or paid contractor invoices, as required in the Construction Award/Grant Agreement, to the City Planner’s Office.
  11. The improvements will be inspected by the City Building Official for approval of the completed work. Partial requisitions and payments will be permitted.


A. Applicant may have to show financial means to complete the project, provide lien waivers from contractors, and/or provide receipt of sale (not bills) showing the completion of the purchase or work eligible for reimbursement.
B. Applicant will be required to provide proof of liability and property insurance sufficient to cover value of the property and improvements if approved.
C. Applicant will be required to complete a W-9 before receiving their first payment from the City.