WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – According to an official from the Kansas Department of Commerce (KDC), the agency has allotted $1.5 million in 2023 to help communities around the state restore aging downtown areas.

Linda Hunsicker, a specialist with the Department of Commerce’s Community Development Block Grants program, says that the funds will “take aim at blight in Kansas’ communities.”

“The goal is to strategically invest grant funds to prevent the spread of blighted conditions to structures,” Hunsicker said. “We want communities to improve downtown buildings so that those buildings will continue to thrive in the communities and (residents) will have a nice, beautiful downtown.” 

These awards are limited to communities based on their size. Some local governments in larger communities are not eligible for Commercial Rehabilitation grants, but they may be eligible for other programs through the KDC.

Ineligible communities include Kansas City, Lawrence, Leavenworth, Manhattan, Overland Park, Topeka, Wichita, and all of Johnson County.

The KDC provides grants through its Commercial Rehabilitation program. Private property owners can apply for up to $250,000 to rehabilitate blighted buildings through their local government.

Improvements are limited to the exterior portions of the building; asbestos abatement; lead-based paint evaluation and reduction; and correcting code violations. If the community is looking to make improvements to a historic building, it must be approved by the Kansas Historical Society. 

For more information on the program, including eligibility, click here.