Additional $1M from Musk: BCIC encouraging building renewal, grants available

CW39

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (KVEO) – Another million from the Musk Foundation has become available for the ongoing revitalization of downtown Brownsville.  

The Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC) has been working towards revamping the downtown area and filling up the unoccupied historical buildings.  

They now have two million dollars to disperse amongst property owners and businesses located in the core downtown area. A map of the eligible area can be found here.  

The money is distributed through BCIC Brownsville Improvement and Growth (BIG) grant programs that focus on updating the interior and façade of buildings intended to later be used for commerce and/or housing. 

BCIC Director of Community Development, Cori Pena said the grant will help with much-needed updating to some of the buildings.  

“A lot of these older buildings are not equipped with utilities, electrical, plumbing, so it’s to assist with that,” said Pena. “As well as to activate the second floors to help with elevators and making them ADA compliant, additional entry or exit.” 

At this time, there are four BIG 1.0 grant programs for businesses beyond the core downtown Brownsville area. 

The grants provide up to $15,000 for renovations to the exterior façade of the buildings, up to $15,000 for renovations to the interior, up to $2,500 for improvements to signage, and $9,600 in rental reimbursement assistance for up to 12 months. 

The BIG 2.0 grant programs will focus on just the core area of downtown Brownsville, where business and property owners can receive up to $200,000 to activate the property.

“We are going to evaluate each applicant and see where they are in their process, so it’ll be a one-to-one meeting with myself and the city of Brownsville, to determine what stage they are in their business or in their renovation,” said Pena.  

Pena hopes the available assistance will attract a variety of new businesses hoping to expand or those hoping to start a second location.

“We’re all for diversity so any business that can enhance the downtown experience, enhance the visitor’s experience, are welcome,” said Pena. “It can be from professional services to restaurants, to cultural event [venues].” 

The grants also aim to tackle the lack of available housing.  

Last month, BCIC Executive Director, Josh Mejia spoke to KVEO about the need to include housing in the revitalization plan for people moving to the area.  

“There’s going to be a need for professionals to be able to have a home near downtown,” said Mejia in a June interview.  

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