The City of Milpitas’ Storefront Improvement Grant Program provides grants for exterior commercial storefront improvements to help increase economic vitality for local businesses. The Milpitas City Council allocated $365,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for this purpose of which, $75,000 has been allocated for design services. Eligible landlords and business owners may apply for grant funding via a competitive selection process.
- Be commercial businesses or tenant spaces on North and South Main Street1
- Be visible from the public right-of-way (i.e., visible from the street)
- Provide a community benefit (i.e., improves health, safety and/or appearance of a business
1 Eligible projects are located on North Main Street from Weller Lane to Carlo Street and on South Main Street from Carlo Street to Curtis Avenue
Consult the Midtown Specific Plan's Design Guidelines (pages 126-140) to develop project plans and drawings regarding:
- Building Design*
- Landscaping, Signage** and Lighting
- Design Guidelines by Building Type
*Improvements to historical structures may require Planning Commission review depending on project scope following review by the Planning Department.
** A master sign program may apply to a commercial building's signage design.
Level 1 Grants
Level 1 Grants will cover either 75% or up to $15,000 of eligible costs2 whichever is less. Grant recipients will be responsible for all costs exceeding grant award. The following improvements require a Minor Site Development Permit issued by the Planning Department and Building Permit issued by the Building and Safety Department.
- Permanent Signage4
- Permit Fees
2 Designs and materials shall comply with City standards
3 Drought resistant, native plants or decorative hardscape
4 Signage restrictions promoting alcoholic beverages, and tobacco and vaping products. Sign types limited to wall signs, blade signs, projecting signs and free-standing signs subject to zoning code.
Level 2 Grants
Level 2 Grants will cover either 75% or up to $25,000 of eligible costs whichever is less. Grant recipients will be responsible for all costs exceeding the grant award. The following improvements5 require a Minor Site Development Permit issued by the Planning Department and Building Permit issued by the Building and Safety Department.
- Exterior lighting
- Outdoor seating and benches
- Outdoor dining features and structures
- Restoration of historic architectural features and finishes
- Removal of inappropriate architectural materials
- Permit fees
- Design consultant fees
5 Improvements shall comply with City design standards.
Consideration will be given to commercial buildings, including neighborhood-serving commercial spaces. Storefronts may be located within commercial centers, neighborhood shopping centers, and mixed-use developments in the eligible project areas on Main Street.
- Applicants must own the property or currently operate their business at project site
- No other projects must be planned for project site while grant-funded improvements are in progress
- Improvements must be visible from the public right-of-way
- Only exterior improvements are eligible for grant funds
- Interior improvements are not eligible for grant funds
- Proposed improvements requiring interior changes are not eligible for grant funds
- Proof of at least three years remaining on tenant lease from application submittal date
- Proof of current City-issued business license in good standing6
- Applicants must have no outstanding City code violations7
6 Business owners/operators who are legal tenants
7 If violations exist, the grant recipient must demonstrate how violations will be resolved to the City's satisfaction before project initiation.
Eligible project area on North Main Street
Eligible project area on South Main Street
- Grant recipient is responsible for covering remaining project costs that exceed the City’s total grant award including mechanics and/or materialmens’ liens
- Grant funds are issued on a reimbursement basis
- City reserves the right to define project milestones and reimbursement eligibility
- Use of public funds trigger prevailing wage requirements per the California Department of Industrial Relations(DIR) if the project is a ‘public works’ project and total compensation is $1,000 or more. California wage schedules are available from DIR8
- Level 1 grant-funded improvements shall be consistent with City design standards
- Level 2 grant-funded improvements will be in collaboration with the City’s qualified design consultant and consistent with City design standards
- Applicant responsible for obtaining required permits and hiring construction contractors
- Matching funds may include, but not be limited to personal loans or outside investments by submitting banking/financial statements showing available funds
- Recipient shall sign Storefront Improvement Program Participation Agreement to complete the project per the Agreement’s milestone and reimbursement schedule. If improvements are not completed per the Agreement, the City has the right to require a mandatory meeting to resolve such matters.
- Maintain the building and property in good condition for five years from date of project completion to keep the property free from visible defects, deterioration, dirt and debris in compliance with City rules, regulations and ordinances.
- If the business owner relocates to another location, the improvements shall remain with the building and shall not be removed other than for repair.
- Applicant and its contractor(s) shall comply with the City’s insurance requirements
- The City may suspend or terminate the agreement, in whole or in part, if applicant fails to comply with any term of the agreement or with any of the rules, and may declare the applicant ineligible from any further participation in City contracts as provided by law
8 Prevailing wage is triggered when construction, alteration, demolition, installation, or repair work done under contract and paid in whole or in part out of public funds. It can include preconstruction and post-construction activities related to a public works project.
Level 2 Grant recipients will receive design services from a qualified City-retained architectural firm to provide the following services:
- Design Guidance
- Prepare preliminary design concepts and cost estimates
- City staff to assist grant recipient through design approval, construction preparation, and permit processes
- Grant funds can be applied to design consultant fees not otherwise covered by the City
- Consult the Midtown Specific Plan's Design Guidelines (pages 126-140) to develop project plans and drawings regarding:
- Building Design*
- Landscaping, Signage** and Lighting
- Design Guidelines by Building Type
*Improvements to historical structures may require Planning Commission review depending on project scope following review by the Planning Department. ** A master sign program may apply to a commercial building's signage design.
- Confirm your eligibility
- Determine grant option
- Read and review Program Requirements
- Complete grant application (PDF)
- Provide a PDF copy of an active City-issued Business License in good standing (Applicants who are legal tenants)
- Provide the property legal description and parcel map, which is included in the property's Preliminary Title Report
- Provide three images of the existing storefront from three different vantage points
- Email completed PDF application, business license, and images to the Economic Development Department
- Economic Development staff will follow up after review of your application
Competitive Selection Criteria
Minimum Passing Score is 55 points out of 85 points
- City staff will review applications based on the competitive selection criteria listed below
- Applicant receives notice of approval or denial of grant award
- Grant recipient will be assigned a City staff member to serve as project manager
- Grant recipient and City discuss insurance requirements and sign Storefront Improvement Program Participation Agreement
- Grant recipient, project manager and design consultant meet to develop project plans consistent with state and local codes and ordinances and identify permit processes
- Project plans, elevations, revisions and other required application materials shall meet state and local code compliance where applicable.
- Grant recipient shall submit the following:
- Planning Application with Minor Site Development Permit (MSDP) application materials to the Planning Department8. Call 408-586-3279 or email The Planning Department for assistance
- If your MSDP is approved by the Planning Department, call 408-586-3240 or email the Building Permit Center for permit guidance. Not all grant eligible improvements require a Building Permit. Confirm Building Permit applicability with Project Manager before contacting the Building Permit Center.
- Applicants whose projects require a Building Permit, must submit the Building Permit application, plans and supporting documents via their ePlan Review account. Applicants must create an ePlan Review account if they do not have an account.
- Read the Permit Application Submittal Requirements on how to prepare and submit a Building Permit Application and submittal documents
6. Building Permit review, decision and issuance, where applicable. (Not all grant eligible improvements require a Building Permit).
7. Licensed contractor(s) with active CLSB status and City Business License perform improvements per City-approved project plans9
8. Grant recipient schedules inspection(s) by a building inspector, where applicable
9. Certificate of Occupancy issued following successful final inspection by a building inspector, where applicable
10. Grantee emails full-color, high-resolution images (2 MB or larger) of improved storefront to City-appointed project manager
8 Minor Site Development Permit submittal requirements listed on page 5 of Universal Planning Application
9 Changes to City-approved plans cannot be made without City review and approval
Grant award recipients have up to one year from the date of project approval to complete the improvements per City-approved plans. If work is not completed within this time period, grantees will forfeit their awarded funds unless an extension is granted by the City to complete construction within 60 business days subject to City consideration.
Applicant shall provide documentation to the City within 30 days of completing each project milestone to receive grant funds via reimbursement per the Storefront Improvement Program Participation Agreement. Otherwise, the City will provide applicable fund reimbursements in a lump sum payment. Examples of documentation include:
- Signed itemized bills, original invoices listing itemized work and costs
- Copies of unconditional mechanics' and material men's releases
- Inspection permits
- Photographs of completed work
Grant recipient shall maintain complete and accurate records with regarding project costs and expenses.