Following EDA Board split vote, Kase Auto Repair Shop to receive Town Center Business Development Program grant – The Suffolk News-Herald

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Kase Auto Repair Shop will receive a $10,000 grant from the Economic Development Authority’s Downtown Business Development Program after its board voted 4-3 to provide financial support for the new business.

President Maria Herbert, Anthony Harper, Mary Snyder and Chris Rice voted in favor, while Vice President Wesley King, George Consolvo and BJ Willie voted against at their March 17 meeting.

The company, located at 416 W. Washington St., is looking to purchase a new diagnostic scanner and scan tool for heavy-duty vehicles, a tire changer and wheel balancer, an automatic two-post lift and an electric air compressor. He estimates the costs at $10,325.

Business Development Manager Deanna Holt said that because the downtown business grant is aimed at retail and food service businesses rather than service businesses, EDA staff recommended that refuse the request.

Ralph Nahra, who bought the property for $200,000 in December, said he was renting it to Eric Brown, who will run the business. Brown operates a separate business, Kase Auto Express Care, at 453 E. Washington St.

Nahra told the EDA that in addition to repairing cars, Brown would sell tires, rims, wiper blades, motor oil, windshield washer fluid, air filters and vehicle bulbs.

“There’s a retail aspect to his business,” Nahra said.

Nahra said he has also spoken with city staff about doing exterior work at the company to repair fences and paint them when the weather permits.

“It will be pretty,” Nahra said. “It will be a new image for the city center.”

Holt said the EDA can also expect to see a fronting grant application from the company.

When asked how much of the company’s revenue will come from retail sales, Nahra said he couldn’t speak for the West Washington Street location, but said he has gas stations. in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, and that about 30% of these companies’ revenues were generated from retail sales.

Nahra said at the Brown’s East Washington Street location there were no more than seven cars at a time, and he didn’t expect more than that at the West Washington Street location.

“I think we should support it,” Herbert said, “because it fits the criteria for retail. We’re not saying in there how much should be retailed. We’re just saying it should be.

King said he had reservations about whether the location was appropriate for the business and whether or not it was more service-oriented than retail.

Deputy City Manager Kevin Hughes said the grant is meant to be for new or existing retail or restaurant businesses that operate or plan to operate in downtown commercial properties in the city.

The grant was established to provide financial assistance to new and existing retail and restaurant businesses already open or planning to open downtown. Award recipients may use grant money on real estate, equipment, furnishings and fixtures and property improvements that are not otherwise eligible for a facade improvement grant.

Projects must be completed within one year of EDA receiving a grant application, the business must remain open for at least one year, and it must create at least one new full-time equivalent job. The maximum grant is $10,000 and is issued on a dollar-for-dollar equivalent reimbursement basis. The EDA board also voted in favor of a $10,000 grant to The Ward Legacy at 300 W. Washington St. to purchase new kitchen equipment and do interior renovations. The Reynolds Cafe also received a $10,000 grant to help build its restaurant and kitchen.

The downtown retail development program began in 2019 and was partly inspired by EDA’s long-running facade grant program, but focused on interior elements rather than the exterior.

“We provided our recommendation,” Hughes said. “I am behind this. But we can also provide more information at the next meeting if you want to determine whether this program should divert, or clarify, or things of that nature. (Since) we rolled out the frontage grant, we’ve tweaked and tweaked it year after year as different things come up that we might not have thought of. This will probably follow. It’s the first way, so there are probably a few things we can bring to you for consideration, but I would classify this as a service industry.

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