South Broadway Urban Renewal Grant/Loan Policy


A. The South Broadway Urban Renewal Grant/Loan Policy is an extension of the initial Broadway Ridge Historic District Grant for Albert Lea’s National Commercial Historic District. The policy is intended to assist property and business owners interested in façade or site improvements that preserve the architectural character of the property and improve the curb-side appeal for the South Broadway corridor. The policy also ensures greater energy efficiency and compliance with relevant building standards as outlined in Albert Lea City Code 74-499.


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.


A. The guidelines for building or site restoration shall include:

1. Façade improvements that preserve the historical character of the building or enhance the visual appeal of the property from South Broadway. The guidelines for building restoration and modification are found in Albert Lea City Code B-2 Building Standards, City Code Section 74-499.

2. Landscaping improvements that enhance the visual appeal of the property from South Broadway.


A. Projects must be located in the South Broadway Avenue corridor between the National Commercial Historic District on the north and Todd Avenue on the south.

B. To be eligible, rehabilitation design shall follow the B-2 Building Guidelines in Albert Lea City Code Section 74-499. An architect, structural engineer, or the building official must determine there are no structural issues with the building which would prohibit the proposed rehabilitation project.


A. 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. Lighting
5. Signage
6. Painting
7. Architect’s Plan and Estimate
8. Other approved exterior improvements excluding roofs.
9. Interior modifications required to complete façade improvements.
10. Landscaping improvements as visible from South Broadway

B. Ineligible Improvements

1. Expenditures such as roofs, tinted windows, parking areas, inventory and equipment, operating expenses, non-fixed improvements, and general maintenance are ineligible.


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. Grants under this program of less than $150,000 or 50% of the project costs are not a Business Subsidy pursuant to Minnesota Statute 116J.993, subd. 3(5).

B. Maximum Grant: The maximum grant will be up to $30,000 or a 50/50 match on the first $60,000 of total project costs. A grant award of $15,000 or greater requires the owner provide a permanent façade easement to the City of Albert Lea.

C. Project Phasing: Projects may be phased, subject to the development of a total plan, in which case the grant funds will pay for that part of the work completed and the grant will be aggregated into the single grant. Aggregated projects may not exceed five years from start to finish and are subject to the maximum grant.

D. Fees and Taxes: Grantees are responsible for any legal fees associated with making the South Broadway Urban Renewal Grant. Taxes and assessment 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 Development Services Office to review the potential project, discuss eligibility, and review the application process and grant policies. Applications shall be submitted to Development Services Office, 221 E. Clark St., Albert Lea, MN 56007.

B. The property owner or a business owner, with the property owner’s approval, may obtain the Grant application from the Development Services Office.

C. Please provide the following documentation and take the following action:

1. Prepare the application and design plans illustrating the proposed work.

2. Prepare a registered set of improvement plans and an itemized estimate of listed improvement components based on a minimum of two contractor’s detailed written quotes for the project.

3. Exterior code violations must be remedied as part of the project.

4. The Grant application shall be signed by the property owner of record.

5. Prepare financial information as to the source of private funds to match the grant and 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 Building Official/Zoning Administrator to discuss the project. An on-site visit may be requested.

7. Receive a project recommendation from City staff. The final decision on whether to grant the award shall be made by the City Council at a public meeting.

8. Execute the Construction Award/Grant Agreement, including the Easement Agreement prior to the start of any improvements for which grant assistance is to be provided. The grant assistance represents a public value from the project requiring the property owner to execute a façade easement on the exterior of the building to the City of Albert Lea that preserves and protects the approved design of the project building. The Easement Agreement shall be recorded at the Freeborn County Recorder’s Office and will remain on the property until amended or released by approval of the Albert Lea City Council.

9. Submit Grant payment requisitions or paid contractor invoices, as required in the Construction Award/Grant Agreement, to the Development Services Office. The improvements will be inspected by the Building Official/Zoning Administrator for approval of the completed work. Partial requisitions and payments will be permitted.

(The estimated time for processing payments is 14 days.)


1. If the property owner chooses to terminate the Easement Agreement the owner may “buy-out” the agreement with interest.
2. The minimum term of an Easement Agreement shall be 25 years. If the Easement Agreement is terminated prior to year 25 the owner shall pay one-twenty fifth of the grant value for each remaining year with interest. If the Easement Agreement is terminated prior to year 10 the grant shall be repaid in full with interest. The interest rate will be established in the Easement Agreement.