DADE CITY — Scaffolding. Dumpsters on the sidewalk. Paint fumes.
Strange as it sounds, the signs of wet paint are welcome in downtown Dade City, where business owners have taken advantage of almost $200,000 in grants to beautify their businesses — and generate some work for area contractors along the way.
"Our business has been down during the construction," said David Hevia, whose store, Kiefer Village Jewels, is undergoing a grant-supported makeover. "But the buildings looking better is going to outweigh that in the long run."
In September, the city's Community Redevelopment Agency offered a Window of Opportunity Grant that paid 100 percent of painting costs, up to $2,500 for a single-story building or $7,500 for a multistory structure.
The city has approved 29 applications for that program, as well as other applications for its long-standing Facade Improvement Grant, which pays 75 percent of an exterior improvement project, up to $7,500.
In all, $185,000 in grants were awarded Sept. 29. More money will likely be released at the agency's next meeting Tuesday.
"That is incredible," said Crystal Davenport, executive director of Downtown Dade City Main Street, which administered the grant. "This is the most money we've ever given in grants."
The boom in grants is also a boost to contractors, who are working days and nights to get the work done quickly and stay out of shoppers' way.
Salvador Jaurequi's painting company, Salvador's Custom Painting of Dade City, nabbed several projects in the first round of grant approvals.
He declined to give a dollar amount on how much the projects boosted business, but he said the phone was ringing off the hook and he had to double his regular staff in anticipation of getting the work done.
Still, he said, what happens when the projects are complete in two or three months?
"I'm enjoying (the work) while it's here," he said. "But I am not letting it get to my head."
Peggy Capps, who runs Antiques on the Main Street, said she will keep a store sign outside to let visitors know she's still open while workers place stucco and paint the building over the next few weeks.
Even if the work spills into snowbird season, she's not concerned.
She and other downtown store owners say they usually stay busy with Northern shoppers until March or April, when the temperatures start to rise.
Capps doubts a little construction will keep them away.
"I have found in the past that if people really want to shop, they're not going to be held back by anything," she said.
Helen Anne Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 435-7312.