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Sycamore awards grant for facade improvements

Published: Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT
(Debbie Behrends – dbehrends@shawmedia.com)
Jeff Keicher has been awarded a grant from the city of Sycamore for masonry work on his State Farm office at 315 W. Elm St. Keicher said the area of the discolored bricks and mortar on the east side of the building are the result of repairs made after a car drove into the side of the building in the 1970s.

SYCAMORE – As soon as the weather is suitable, Jeff Keicher’s State Farm office at 315 W. Elm St. will get a facelift.

The Sycamore City Council unanimously approved a grant of $3,315 to assist with tuckpointing and replacement of deteriorated bricks on the front and side of the building facing the city parking lot. The matching grant was recommended by the city’s Architectural Review Committee.

Under the program, downtown businesses considering improvements submit plans to the committee, which can provide up to $5,000 a building.

The business owner also has to spend that much or more on the improvements.

The city allocates $25,000 annually for the grants, and not all businesses request the full $5,000, said City Manager Brian Gregory. The city started the program in June 2004 with a focus of preserving the overall appearance and historic architecture of downtown Sycamore.

Mayor Ken Mundy said initially the program included only businesses on State Street, between Sacramento and Main streets. That area was expanded to include several side streets in 2011.

Keicher said his office once housed a banking institution, and sometime in the 1970s, a vehicle jumped the curb and drove into the side of the building.

“When that repair work was done, the mortar used didn’t match the remainder of the building,” Keicher said. “It’s been an eyesore for quite a while.”

He believed his request was a good one since his building is adjacent to the city parking lot that hosts the Sunday farmers markets and a variety of downtown events.

“Fixing that eyesore would certainly beautify the downtown area,” Keicher said. “It will be a pretty impact on how downtown is perceived.”

Keicher also intends to remove the awnings and update the State Farm sign on the building, with no assistance from the city. He said he didn’t believe it was appropriate to request sign assistance since he views that as marketing for his business.

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