Ocean Springs Offers Funds To Improve Business Facades

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - "We're going to have the stools along this front part, where you can sit and hang out and enjoy drinks," said Clark Levi, as he pointed to a counter.

Milk shakes and memories are coming back to Lovelace Drugs in downtown Ocean Springs. A soda fountain that's being restored in Chicago should be arriving any day now.

"We have a popcorn machine that will probably go here," Levi said.

Clark Levi and his business partners have poured their hearts and money into renovating the inside of the 82-year-old drug store.

"We're trying to keep the old wood style cabinets and trying to make it look like you're stepping back in time when you go in here," said Levi.

Levi also has a vision to give the outside of the building a fresher look. The changes include opening-up an enclosed front door, replacing the tiled floors, and installing a side awning.

"We would like to bring it back to the splendor that it once had, like to redo all the windows and the paint and up towards the top, where the cracking and everything," said Levi.

Levi plans to take advantage of a new Facade Grant Program in Ocean Springs.  The board of aldermen has set aside $20,000 to fund the program. Eligible businesses west of Martin Luther King Drive, could get up to 50 percent reimbursement for minor exterior projects. There's a cap for each applicant of $2,500.

"This is 50 percent off paint, if you look at it that way," said Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran. "The board of aldermen wanted to incentivize small businesses to paint, add awnings, landscaping, anything to make the businesses more attractive. Because green brings green, as we know. People love to dine and shop in safe and attractive and clean places."

The grant may give businesses the push they need to start restoring the buildings to their former glory. Applications will be available October first at the Ocean Springs Chamber office on Washington Avenue, or you can contact Ocean Springs City Hall.