A new grant program offered by the town of New Market is aimed at bringing new food and beverage establishments to the town’s historic district.
The Town Council recently approved a $60,000 grant program to “assist businesses and property owners with capacity fees related to connecting to county water and wastewater service infrastructure,” according to a summary of the program on the town’s website. The town will pay up to half of these fees, a one-to-one match, to incentivize new businesses on Main Street or the expansion of existing businesses.
Mayor Winslow Burhans III has learned the number of taps and costs required for food and beverage facilities can be prohibitive to business growth. The new grant program is designed to assist with that burden.
“We really need to get some restaurants open,” Burhans said in an interview.
Popular restaurant The Derby stands as the single restaurant downtown along Main Street, though there are more restaurants just outside of downtown. Vintage Restaurant, which was on Main Street, closed around the start of the pandemic. Burhans said he’d like to see Vintage return and hopes the new grant program will help.
Using American Rescue Plan Act money for infrastructure projects freed up other funds in the town budget to make the grant program possible, according to Burhans. He said the vote to approve this program was “kind of a no-brainer.”
In general, Burhans recommends prospective business owners meet with the town’s zoning administrator to get a sense of requirements before they buy property and embark on an expensive project.
Applications for the water/wastewater capacity fee grant program are accepted on a rolling basis and first-come, first-served. The $60,000 allocated thus far is considered an initial budget, according to Jean LaPadula, New Market’s grants and Main Street manager. The town could possibly provide more funding, she said, depending on the number of applications.
“I hope that [the grant program] brings in food and beverage establishments that are hopefully up and down the street,” she told the News-Post.
Goals of the program also include increasing the economic viability of existing vacant or underused buildings, creating jobs, increasing property tax revenues and more. To be eligible, projects must be in the Residential Merchant Historic District.
More details and a copy of the application can be found on townofnewmarket.org under the “Business Resources” tab. The town also shared a PDF with details and the application on its Facebook page.