Man on ladder repairing interior of a building

Building Up-fit Grant Project Management FAQ

Jump To:

Application Screening, Permits and Contractors Tenant-Landlord Commercial Lease

The Building Up-Fit Grant Program is for building improvements that could not otherwise happen without this funding. As we like to say, it turns dreams into reality. Below, are the commonly asked questions around the managing your project. 

Application Screening, Permits and Contractors

How do you predict whether a project would happen without this grant?
The first step is to screen out obvious exceptions. For example, if the applicant is a multi-billion-dollar multinational company or a regional chain with hundreds of outlets in the Southeast, it’s almost certain they will have the resources to complete a project without this grant. There is a strict requirement that the proposed project has not started prior to applying for the grant or receiving the grant award. Learn more about application process.

What if I’ve already started my construction project?
If an improvement project is already underway, that shows that this grant is not essential for that project. Any project that is already underway would be ineligible for this grant program. This includes an application for permits for regulatory review. 

How does the City know if a project has already started? What makes a project ineligible because it is “already in progress”?
The program requires that there can be no construction, no City permits or City site reviews on record. If you have started your project or have already applied for permits, the project is not eligible for this grant program. Program guidelines also exclude projects where work has clearly begun. Examples include construction fencing, contractor vehicles, construction materials or equipment on site, partially completed work on-site, etc. which may be verified by City staff by inspection before consideration of an application.

When can I start to apply for permits and start building?
Applicants must wait until after they've received notification of their Grant Award Date before applying for permits or to begin any build-out. The Grant Award Date is typically 8 weeks after applications open for a given quarter. Your project will be considered in progress and will be disqualified if you apply for permits, or if your construction proceeds, before the City has notified you about a grant award. 

How long do I need to wait before I talk to any contractors or architects?
We recommend talking to your contractors or architects before applying for the grant. That way, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running, if/when you hear that you have been selected for the grant award.

Should I schedule my Express Review?  Will that disqualify my grant application?
Scheduling an Express Review is seen as a good proactive planning step for certain projects, and helps ensure their success. Once the project is confirmed viable at an Express Review, permit applications are processed. As long as your Express Review is scheduled for after the Building Up-fit Grant Award Notification Date, your application can keep moving forward. If your Express Review occurs before that Notification Date, then your application will be disqualified. More information about the Express Review.

What if I can do all of the work myself?
Certain work (including electric, plumbing, HVAC, and engineered structural work) will require appropriate permits, along with the help of licensed professionals. North Carolina law requires that a Licensed General Contractor is used for any commercial projects exceeding $30,000 in cost. More information.

Tenant-Landlord Commercial Lease

I lease my space. Why do you require at least 3 years on my lease?
Up-fit projects have limited value if they are changed or removed right after they are completed. That’s why the City requires that any reimbursed up-fit is in place for at least 3 years. If a tenant has a lease running out before that 3 years, this program requirement could not be guaranteed. That is why at least 3 years are required on a lease.

What happens if any part of my up-fit project gets changed or removed within 3 years or project completion?
The program has a “clawback” provision. It is required by North Carolina law to recover all or part of the grant funding from the business owner on a pro-rated basis.

What do I need from my landlord to participate?
Your landlord will need to provide a signature, indicating that he/she has been notified about your planned up-fit project. This confirms that your landlord understands the requirements of the City’s Building Up-fit Grant program.

What else do I need to know about regarding my lease?
To avoid “double-dipping” with public funding, the lease is examined to understand any landlord credits that may be available to the tenant. Landlord credits are ok, but they are part of the grant calculation. Specifically, landlord credits get deducted from your qualified expense. For example, if you have a $100,000 up-fit project planned, and your landlord offers a $40,000 construction credit, then your grant value would be calculated as a $60,000 up-fit project.

I am planning to rent, but I am still negotiating terms with the potential landlord. Am I still eligible to apply? 
We will allow you to apply with a Letter of Intent (LOI). As with a lease, the LOI should specify a minimum of a 3-year term. You will need to secure your lease, and you will still need to complete your project within program timeline requirements, to remain in the grant program.

Related Projects

  All projects