Zero Percent Loan Program

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Facade Improvement Program for Commercial Property in:

Ardmore
Gladwyne
Penn Wynne
Bala Village
Haverford Square
Rock Hill Valley
Bryn Mawr
Merion-Cynwyd
Wynnewood
City Avenue
Penn Valley

Details about a 0% interest loan program to improve the appearance of your property or business.

How can the Township offer a 0% interest loan?

Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds have been allocated to assist local business property owners in their efforts to improve the condition and appearance of their buildings.

Who can take advantage of this offer?

Funds are available to property owners and leaseholders in the Township commercial districts that undertake improvements to not only building facades but also major systems including roof, electrical and heating systems. Incidental costs to upgrade handicap accessibility and sidewalk improvements may also be eligible as well as building renovations that correct building code violations. (These types of code issues may be defined as violations affecting the structural integrity of the building. In general, this would include building, fire, electrical, roof, and in some instances, plumbing repairs.) Commercial tenants with long-term leases meeting the above criteria are also eligible for funding.

Properties that are exclusively residential are not eligible to participate in this program, but may be eligible for other Township sponsored CDBG programs for low-and moderate-income owner-occupants.

The Commercial Property/Facade Improvement program is available to any owner of commercial, retail or mixed-use properties or businesses located in Lower Merion Township and within any of the eleven commercial districts listed on the front of this brochure. Eligible structures must house a ground floor commercial business. Residential uses, such as apartments or residential rentals, shall only be eligible if they constitute the upper floor(s) of a structure housing a ground floor business, and the proposed improvements are judged to have an impact on the appearance of the commercial business.

Why is this program being offered?

This program is designed to stimulate private investment in Township commercial areas and to achieve a cohesive exterior design. The appearance of the Township commercial and retail buildings contributes to attracting and retaining businesses and increases the value of the business districts.

What are the terms of the interest-free loan?

No liens will be placed by the Township against the property or participants. The terms are as follows:

  • The Borrower shall be pre-approved by the Township's Review Committee before any application is made to a financial institution. Bank(s) shall use standard lending practices in determining qualifications for lending under this program.
  • Work must be done in a manner that follows the guidelines established in Commercial District Design Guidelines (June 1991), published for Lower Merion Township, and complements the existing architectural conditions of the building and the immediate surrounding streetscape. These guidelines generally conform to the U.S. Secretary of Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation.
  • Loans will be made at conventional commercial rates. Closing/processing costs of the loan that are considered standard and customary may also be subsidized under this program.
  • The Township will "write down" the interest costs on each loan to zero percent.

How can I apply for these loans?

The applicant is required to submit a letter of intent to the Township's Office of Economic Development. This letter must describe:

  • The proposed work to be completed
  • An estimate of the cost
  • Photographs of the building areas proposed for improvement.

The applicant must provide proof of ownership. If the property is under a long-term lease, permission of the owner or rights under the lease must be documented. Applicants are encouraged to get at least two cost estimates for the proposed work.

The Economic Development Specialist will assist the applicant to inspect the building and make a condition report of the proposed work areas. The proposed work will be reviewed with the applicant.

Any work that the inspection reveals should be considered as significant to the appearance or stability of the building that has not been included in the applicant's proposed scope of work may result in a job conference being called to discuss the proposed scope of work.

Other Considerations

The facade and exterior of any new building addition shall be compatible with the architecture of the existing building facade. A detailed description of the facade and exterior treatments of any new addition must accompany the application.

The review committee may request architectural renderings of the facade and exterior treatments before a determination can be made.

All construction must be in compliance with the Township's adopted building codes and all other applicable laws and regulations including zoning laws. In addition, work that includes alteration to interior spaces or exit ways may be subject to Pennsylvania Labor and Industry review.

The review committee may have the discretion to suggest design alternatives for any sign being used or to be used on any business or building being assisted under this program.

A sketch and detailed description, including dimensions, colors, materials and textures of signs to be used, must accompany the application.

Business participants in this program must be Equal Opportunity Employers and shall be in complete conformance with all applicable State and Federal codes and statutes pertaining to Equal Employment Opportunity, Fair Labor Standards, Minimum Wage and other applicable labor provisions.

Any business, individual, partnership, corporation, property owner, lessor or lessee who will directly benefit from participation in this program, whether or not they are the applicant, must be current and up to date on all taxes and fees levied within the Township. These legal debts may include, but not be limited to real estate taxes, school taxes or any other charges assessed by municipal authorities either directly or indirectly affiliated with Lower Merion Township.

Lower Merion Township shall have the authority to make revisions and amendments to the regulation of this program, as it may deem necessary.

In the event that revisions or amendments are made to this program, they shall become effective as of the date of adoption and shall not be binding on any loan subsidy closed prior to that date of adoption.

Participating Institutions

Beneficial Savings Bank
Bryn Mawr Trust Company
Citizens Bank
Commerce Bank
Firstrust Bank
First Republic Bank
First Union Bank
M & T Bank
National Penn Bank
PNC Bank
Progress Bank
Royal Bank of Pennsylvania

For additional contact information, please call the Office of Economic Development at 610-645-6184.