Downcity Loans | Providence Revolving Fund

Providence Revolving Fund
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The Downcity Fund
The Downcity Fund provides grants and loans to qualified borrowers for projects which enhance the historic character of Downtown Providence and contribute to the vision for Downcity as a diverse arts and entertainment district. Funds may be used for awnings, signage, façade improvements, substantial renovations and new construction. Loan policies and guidelines are established by the Downcity Advisory Board, representing the Providence Revolving Fund and the Providence Foundation.  The Providence Revolving Fund Board reviews, negotiates the terms, and has final approval of all loans and grants.

The Downcity Loan and Grant Applications
For more information about the loan and grant program please contact:

Carrie Zaslow
Executive Director
Providence Revolving Fund
372 West Fountain Street, Providence, RI 02903

To access loan and grant applications, please click here:
Word File: Construction Loan Application
Word File: Storefront Loan and Grant Application

FFree design assistance is available on a limited basis with one of our pre-qualified architects. To access the Design Assistance Application, please click here:
Word File: Design Assistance Application

For information on how to apply for a building permit, please click here:
PDF File: How to Apply for a Building Permit in Downcity

Eligibility Guidelines
To qualify for a Downcity loan or grant, the commercial property must be located within the Downtown Providence Historic District defined by Memorial Blvd, Friendship Street, Franklin Street (Service Road 8), and Sabin Street. Loans and grants are available to property owners and leasehold tenants.

Loans and grants are for capital improvements only.  Retroactive loans and grants will not be considered.  The Revolving Fund has the sole authority to determine eligibility of proposed work and confirmation of completed work.  Certain work may be required or precluded as a condition of funding. 

Participants will be responsible for obtaining necessary regulatory approvals and building permits.  Architectural fees and permit fees can be reimbursed through the program.  All work must comply with City of Providence Downcity Review Committee (DRC) standards and guidelines, as well as, city, state and federal regulations.  All contractors must be licensed by the State of Rhode Island.  All construction contracts will be between the applicant and contractor.

Loans and Grants

Construction Loans
Loans up to $1 million are available to property owners for qualified building improvements and new construction.  This includes exterior restoration and interior renovation.  Loans will be secured by a first or subordinated second mortgage, personal guarantees, and additional collateral as required. Loan terms will be determined on a case by case basis.

Storefront Improvement Loans
Loans up to $50,000 per storefront are available to property owners and/or business lessees with written authorization of the property owner. Loans can be used for the rehabilitation of building elevations visible to the street, including storefronts; cornices; display windows; signs and graphics; exterior lighting; canopies and awnings; painting and masonry cleaning; and limited interior capital improvements. 

Loans will be secured by a second mortgage or lien on the improvements, personal guarantees, and additional collateral as required.  Loan funds can be used by the applicant to meet the matching fund requirement of the grant program.  Typically storefront loans will be based on the prime rate with a term no longer than 72 months.

Storefront Grants
Matching grants up to $10,000 per storefront are available to property owners and/or business lessees with written authorization of the property owner.  Grants can be used for the restoration of building elevations visible to the street, including storefronts; windows; cornices; signs; exterior lighting; awnings; painting; masonry cleaning; and limited accessibility improvements.  Grants must be matched 100% by the applicant. 

Application Process
At the request of a property owner and/or business lessee, a site visit will be arranged with Providence Revolving Fund staff to assess the property and determine the scope of work.  A loan and grant application package will be provided.

Upon receipt of the completed application and required documentation, the Providence Revolving Fund will underwrite the loan, with a complete credit check and financial analysis. The application will be reviewed by a loan committee and presented to the Providence Revolving Fund Board for final approval.

A commitment letter will be issued for approved grants and loans. The commitment letter will detail the terms and conditions of the grant and/or loan, and will serve as the legal commitment of both parties as to the scope and quality of work and the amount of funds committed.

Loan Procedure
Upon approval of the application and acceptance of the loan terms by the applicant, a loan closing will be held.  Documents are available for review prior to the closing.  The applicant will bear the costs of a title search, title insurance, legal and recording fees.

During construction, the borrower will only pay interest on the amount of funds dispersed.  Upon substantial completion, the loan will be amortized with principal and interest payments.  Because of how interest billing occurs during construction (which is based on interest incurred during the month prior to the payment due date) the first payment due after completion will include the interest payment for the previous month, plus the principal and interest payment for the current month.  This is referred to as the "construction interest catch up".

Bills will be mailed around the 20th of each month, with payments due on the first of the following month.  A late charge of 5% will be billed on all overdue accounts.

Grant Procedure
Grant funds will be disbursed within 5 business days of submittal of final invoices to the Providence Revolving Fund marked Paid in Full by the contractor.  A final inspection will be performed by the Revolving Fund staff to ensure that all work is satisfactory and has been done according to the original plan submitted.

Loan and Grant Evaluation Criteria and Funding Priorities
Loans and grants will be evaluated by the Downcity Advisory Committee and the Providence Revolving Fund's Board of Directors based on the following criteria:

Loan Criteria

  • Consistency with Downcity Fund Priorities outlined below.
  • Location of the project within the boundaries defined under eligibility.
  • Impact and leverage of the project on the revitalization of the surrounding area.
  • Demonstrated capacity and experience of the applicant to complete the project.
  • Provision of a sound market and financial feasibility for the project.
  • Demonstrated ability to repay the loan.
  • Sufficient collateral and guarantees to secure the loan.
  • Owner equity position in the project.
  • Inability to receive sufficient financing by conventional sources.
  • Ability to leverage additional resources and financing. 

Grant Criteria

  • Impact that the grant will have on the visual and historic appearance of the building.
  • Ability of the grant to leverage improvements that would otherwise not be feasible.
  • Desire of the Revolving Fund to be involved in the design process.
  • Willingness of the applicant to leverage grant funds with personal funds, beyond the matching requirement.
  • Demonstrated financial and/or technical need for the grant.

Downcity Fund Priorities

  • Upper Story Housing Conversions
    Encourage the development of market rate and affordable rental and owner occupied housing and live/work space within historic buildings.  Encourage small hotel development where appropriate.
  • Upper Story Commercial Development
    Encourage the rehabilitation of historic properties for targeted office uses which contribute to the "creative economy."  Encourage the development of incubator spaces and design- and media-oriented office users.
  • Ground Floor Retail and Commercial
    Encourage ground floor development which is consistent with the Cooperative Arts and Retail management program adopted by the Providence Foundation in October, 2003.
  • Conversions for Arts and Entertainment Uses
    Encourage the development and conversion of buildings to arts or entertainment uses such as theaters, galleries, and restaurants. 
  • Façade Improvements
    Maintain and restore historic building facades and encourage high quality design and workmanship for all façade and storefront improvements. 
  • Development of Underutilized Lots
    Encourage the development of vacant and underutilized lots, conforming to the uses listed above.  Encourage the development of parking facilities with liner buildings where appropriate.

The Providence Foundation
As part of the overall implementation strategy for Downcity, The Providence Foundation is coordinating the organization, promotion and marketing of Downcity. They are also providing administrative support to the Downtown Improvement District.  For more information about the Providence Foundation, click here:


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