NOTICE OF FUNDING AVAILABILITY: Project Restore

Purpose:

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is administering $25 million to provide financial support to Maryland’s new or expanding businesses to help incentivize commercial investment in vacant retail and commercial properties.

Project Restore will provide two grant opportunities for businesses that plan on opening or expanding into previously vacant spaces:

  1. Rental Assistance Grant: up to $30,000 for 1 year for qualified small businesses 
  2. Business Operations Grant: up to $250,000 per year, for 1 or 2 years, for qualified businesses

This NOFA pertains to the funding allocation for Project Restore and provides a preview of the application which is projected to be available online on Wednesday, September 8 at 12:00 pm.

Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Grant Eligibility Criteria:

To be eligible to apply for either a Rental Assistance Grant and/or a Business Assistance Grant, a business must meet all of the following criteria:

  • May be a new or existing business, but business must be located in Maryland 
  • Business must be registered and in good standing with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT). 
  • Business must open or expand in a retail or commercial space that has been vacant at least 6 months prior to the date they submit their application. 
  • Financially viable business whose operations will continue forward

NOT ELIGIBLE TO APPLY: Businesses that have the following as their principal purpose are not eligible to apply:

(1) Adult bookstore, adult video shop, or other adult entertainment facility; (2) Check cashing facility;(3) Gambling facility; (4) Gun shop; (5) Liquor store; (6) Massage parlor; (7) Pawn shop; (8) Tanning salon; or (9) Tattoo parlor.

Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Grant Funding Criteria:

1. Rental Assistance Grant: 

The maximum grant request amount is $30,000 for one year (rental payment up to $2,500 per month). Applicant’s monthly rent can exceed $2,500, but the maximum that will be paid by the Rental Assistance Grant will be $2,500 per month. Only applications that are fully complete at submission will be considered for funding.

To be eligible to apply for a Rental Assistance Grant, a business must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Business with 50 or fewer employees (full time equivalents) as of September 1, 2021 
  • Business must open or expand in a retail or commercial space that has been vacant at least 6 months prior to the date they submit their application. 
  • At time of application, business must provide a signed letter of intent to lease and occupy the space, or, an executed lease signed on or after July 1, 2021.
    NOTE: If awarded funds, the business must provide an executed lease agreement prior to executing a grant agreement and receiving any funds
  • Businesses must occupy the space for a minimum 12 months following receipt of a Rental Assistance Grant. 
  • Businesses are prohibited from breaking existing leases to participate in the program; however, those with expired or expiring leases are eligible to apply. 
  • Funding requests will be reviewed on a first-come-first-served basis. 
  • If the application is fully complete at the time of submission, funding decisions will be made within 30 days of the submission date 
  • Grant amounts may be reduced relative to requests, if demand exceeds available funding.

NOTE: Rental Assistance Grants will be paid directly to the landlord and the business will be required to provide information related to the landlord at time of application.

2. Business Operations Grant:

The maximum grant award amount is $250,000 for 1 or 2 years. The Business Operations Grant can be used for activities and costs related to sustaining and growing the business such as staff costs, capital improvements, marketing, inventory and supplies, utilities and the like and cannot be used for executive salaries or bonuses. Grant awards will be paid quarterly and will be based on the amount of sales and use tax generated by the business and submitted to the State in Calendar Year 2022. Only applications that are fully complete at submission will be considered for funding.

To be eligible to apply for a Business Operations Grant, a business must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Business must generate sales and use tax
  • Business must open or expand in a retail or commercial space that has been vacant at least 6 months prior to the date they submit their application.
  • At time of application, business must provide a signed letter of intent to lease and occupy the space. Or provide an executed lease signed on or after July 1, 2021
    NOTE: If awarded funds, the business must provide an executed lease agreement prior to executing a grant agreement and receiving any funds.
  • Businesses must occupy the space for a minimum 12 months following receipt of a Business Operations Grant.
  • Businesses are prohibited from breaking existing leases to participate in the program; however, those with expired or expiring leases are eligible to apply.
  • At time of application an existing business must provide information on and proof of the sales and use tax paid to the state for Calendar Year 2019.
  • At the time of application, a new business must provide information on the anticipated amount of sales and use tax to be paid for Calendar Year 2022.
  • If awarded a Business Operations Grant, business must provide proof of sales and use tax paid to the State of Maryland quarterly starting January 1, 2022.
  • Funding requests will be reviewed on a first-come-first-served basis.
  • If the application is fully complete at the time of submission, funding decisions will be made within 30 days of the submission date
  • Grant amounts may be reduced relative to requests, if demand exceeds available funding.

Criteria to determine Business Operations Grant awards will be as follows:

1. Award Amounts:

Award amounts will be determined as follows:

Grant payments will be based on actual sales and use tax paid to the state beginning January 1, 2022. Payments will be made to the business on a quarterly basis, after the Comptroller’s Office has received the sales and use tax submitted to them by the business. Grant amounts will be capped at $ 250,000 annually, and may be reduced relative to requests, if demand exceeds available funding.

2. Award Term: 1 or 2 years

The funding award term of 1 or 2 years will be determined based on the location of the previously vacant retail or commercial space the business will occupy.

  • If the previously vacant space is located in one of the following Tier 1 areas the grant award, up to $250,000 annually, will be for 2 years
    • Tier 1 Areas
      • Baltimore City, Allegany, Baltimore, Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Garrett, Kent, Prince George’s, Somerset, Washington, Wicomico, and Worcester Counties. 
      • ​Opportunity Zones and State designated Main Streets located in any Maryland county.
  • If the previously vacant space is located in the Tier 2 areas the grant award, up to $250,000 annually, will be for 1 year
    • Tier 2 Areas
      • All other counties not listed in Tier 1 Areas. ​​

Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Grant Application Process:

  • NOFA release: Friday, August 6
  • Sample application will be posted by August 20
  • Projected on-line Project Restore application portal opens: 12:00 noon, Wednesday, September 8
    PLEASE CHECK BACK FOR UPDATES
  • Application portal closes: 5:00 pm, Friday, October 8 at the latest; the portal may close if or when grant requests exceed available funding.
  • Funding decisions will be made on a rolling basis beginning October 11.
  • Dates may be subject to change, please check the website periodically for updates

Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Grant Application Requirements:

In addition to basic information about the business, such as the type of business, location of business, etc., the following information and attachments will be required in the on-line application in order for an application to be considered complete. Space to answer will be very limited; it is recommended that applicants prepare answers and gather required attachments in advance of the September 8 opening of the on-line application.

  1. Business Summary: A brief description of the business and financial ability to start or continue operations.

Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Required Grant Application Attachments:

The following attachments will be required in the on-line application in order for the application to be considered complete:

  • Online verification of Certificate of Good Standing from the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation for both the applicant and their landlord
  • IRS W-9 Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification for both the applicant and their landlord
  • Signed by both applicant and landlord a letter of intent to lease and occupy the vacant space or executed lease. NOTE: If awarded funds, the business must provide an executed lease agreement prior to executing a grant agreement and receiving any funds
  • Signed by the landlord a Project Restore​ Landlord agreement
  • Existing businesses must provide Profit & Loss financial statements for 2019 and 2020
  • New businesses must provide a business plan and proforma
  • If applying for the Business Operations Grant, existing businesses must provide proof sales and use tax paid in Calendar Year 2019 and new businesses must provide information on anticipated sales and use tax to be paid beginning January 1, 2022.

Questions?

For quickest response, please email questions to dhcd.projectrestore@maryland.gov​.

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