The Town vision, Envision Front Royal, was developed largely from public input and public prioritization. A major goal established by Envision Front Royal is a priority on investment in the Town; with a particular focus of attention given to the downtown and economic development.
Following approval of Envision Front Royal, the Town showed a commitment to the principles of the Town vision by several actions, including applying for the Main Street Program, hiring a Community Development Director to fill a gap in economic and community development needs within the Town, and applying for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. In late 2015, the CDBG application was approved and work began on a revitalization plan.
Since January 2016, Town Planning & Zoning has been working with the Northern Valley Regional Commission, a Project Management Team consisting of local citizens and business owners, the new Town Community Development Director, and many stakeholders throughout the Community. The conclusion of this planning process will be completion of a revitalization plan that will be submitted to Town Council for approval in February/March 2017. Shortly following approval by Town Council, the Town will submit an implementation grant that requests funds from the state to implement the list of activities within the plan.
LIST OF ACTIVITIES
Administration: Front Royal's Downtown Revitalization Project is requesting $79,800 in administrative costs. This is for the purpose of administering the Façade Improvement Program by a professional with experience in the area.
Façade Improvement Program: Front Roya's Downtown Revitalization Project is requesting $350,000 in CDBG funds matched by $350,000 in private investment to improve the facades of deteriorating or dilapidated commercial buildings. These funds enable the Town to assist commercial property owners in the restoration of their buildings. In doing so, this will strengthen their businesses and stimulate economic growth. Currently 32 property owners have provided letters of intent to utilize the program, ranging from small projects to significant renovations. Additionally, the Town will request $35,000 in CDBG funds for architectural assistance.
Public Restroom/Drinking Fountain: As part of Front Royal's project, a new public restroom and outdoor water fountain (3-tiered, drinking, water bottle filler and pet bowl) will be constructed to encourage visitors to stay downtown longer and to support the hosting of visitors during downtown events and festivals. Based on an estimate provided by Warren County for its recently constructed public restroom facility, the Town is requesting $125,000 in CDBG funds. The construction of a drinking fountain will be funded by the Town, with a cost estimate of $5,259.00.
Multi-Purpose Open Air Gathering Space: An Open Air Gathering Space will be constructed to serve as a venue for a variety of events including a farmer's market, concerts, dances, movies and art exhibits. Upon review of cost estimates of other facilities, the total cost for design and construction would be approximately $250,000. The Town is requesting $125,000 in CDBG funds and will match the remaining $125,000.
Alley and Parking Improvements: There are four alleys/side streets in the project area which have been designated for improvements. Two of these provide access to the parking area behind businesses on East Main Street. The Town is requesting $30,000 to conduct a study to include 1) the feasibility of shortening existing streets; 2) closing and consolidating mixed parking areas to enhance visitor experience; 3) development of a concept plan and next steps for working with property owners, acquisition or purchasing easements to improve those areas. The Town will provide our match through survey work in development of the study. The addition of artwork and murals to these alleys will be contributed through local contributions at approximately $3,000. The Town will support the promotion of the local artwork with $500.
Streetscape Improvements: Five crosswalks within the project area will be repainted at a cost of $1,000 each based on estimates from the Town of Front Royal's Environmental Services. Thirty-five (35) trash cans have been identified that require refurbishing, and thirty-one (31) benches require cleaning, a cost of $3500. These improvements will be part of the Town's match. The CDBG portion of this activity will include design of streetscape improvements, such as streetlights and sidewalks. The Town will cover $5000 towards this streetscape design and is requesting $25,000 through the CDBG Grant. Construction of these facilities will be undertaken as a future phase.
Signage: Wayfinding and signage will be updated to direct visitors while enhancing the visitor experience and provide a cohesive message and brand for the Town. As part of the project, a study and inventory of all signage will be conducted, including all of the major thoroughfares throughout Town. A plan will be developed delineating where the signage should be located. The project will include design, construction, and installation of signage. The Town will separately pursue signage on the interstate through a partnership with Warren County. Estimates are for 2 entrance feature signs, 3 wayfinding signs, 5 directory boards, and 33 banners that are changed seasonally. The total signage allocation is $190,500, including a request of $156,000 in CDBG funds, and a match by the Town of $34,500. These estimates are based on a wayfinding quote issued by Warren County; comparison of costs by other localities; comparison of other projects; and RFP quotes received.
Branding and Marketing: The next steps in the Town of Front Royal's Branding Initiative, launched as part of the Downtown Revitalization Project, will include the development and implementation of a complete marketing strategy. This strategy will enhance the community's social media and web presence, produce marketing collateral and materials, enhance the Visitor Center, and coordinate the new brand with facilities and events. Based on estimates, the Town is requesting the following:
A. Social Media & Digital Advertisements.
B. Marketing Documents and Brochures.
C. Website Strategy.
D. Refurbish Brochure Racks.
E. Visitor Center Update.
F. Branding Campaigns.