In Massachusetts, an innovative new downtown revitalization program is now available to communities statewide. It’s called the Vacant Storefronts Program (MVSP).
Accessing this support is a two-step process. First, a municipality must create a district prior to any businesses being able to qualify as a project.
Then, after a district is created, interested businesses or individuals must submit an application by the posted deadline to be considered at the corresponding EACC meeting. MOBD will review the application and ensure that the applicant meets the eligibility requirements of the EDIP.
The stated purpose of the program is to help Massachusetts in their efforts to revitalize their downtowns and commercial areas.
Municipalities may apply to the Economic Assistance Coordinating Council (EACC) for certification to designate a defined downtown or other commercial area, as a Certified Vacant Storefront District.
After achieving such a designation, businesses or individuals may apply to the EACC for refundable EDIP tax credits for leasing and occupying a vacant storefront in that district. This subsequent application is to become a Certified Vacant Storefronts Project.
Certification for both the Districts and the Projects are competitive. The EACC may withhold approval or ask that an application be re-submitted.
Some reasons for withholding approval include:
- the location is not in a high-need area;
- the municipality does not offer reasonable support for the program;
- the business does not fulfill a need or a void in the district;
- the submission does not fulfill the matching funds requirement;
- the petition does not demonstrate the municipality’s ability to effectively attract interest in the vacant storefronts; or
- if the EACC determines the application is not consistent with the purposes of the program for any other reason.
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