The Storefront Improvement Program (SIP) revitalizes building facades visible to customers, neighboring merchants and residents. The City of San Diego provides free professional design assistance and financial incentives to small business owners who wish to make a creative change to and improve the curb appeal of their storefronts. In FY2021, the SIP completed 18 projects throughout the City and provided $148,500 in incentives, leveraging $235,400 in private funds.
- Council Policy 900-17
- PHOTOS: Storefront Improvement Program Successes (Before and After)
- Frequently Asked Questions
All applications are subject to review for eligibility. SIP is open to small businesses (25 or fewer employees) that are located in the City of San Diego and have a valid business tax certificate.
Program Exclusions: National franchises, office buildings larger than 80,000 square feet, residential rental buildings (apartments), home-based businesses, storefronts that do not face the public right-of-way, government-owned and -occupied buildings, churches and other religious institutions are not eligible. Properties that have received a SIP rebate within the past five years and projects that have already begun or completed renovations/construction are also ineligible.
Eligible Improvements: These include the repair, replacement or new applications of awnings, windows, doors, lighting, paint, landscaping, tile or other decorative material and signs. The removal of security bars and code compliance for signage violations are also eligible for the rebate.
The design parameters include:
- Respecting original features of the building, including the use of color and suitable materials;
- Limiting additional signage by incorporating it into the building's design; and
- Using of suitable landscaping that will aid in the preservation of community scale and character.
The City of San Diego offers three different rebate options through the SIP:
- Standard: Awards the applicant for one-half of the eligible construction costs up to an $8,000 maximum.
- Historic Restoration: Awards the applicant for two-thirds of the eligible construction costs up to a $12,000 maximum. Historic photos showing the property as it will be restored to must be submitted.
- Multiple-Tenant Commercial: Awards property owners with a commercial building that leases to multiple small business tenants one-half of the eligible construction costs up to a $16,000 maximum. Each qualified tenant must have his or her own street-facing entrance.
The guidelines and procedures of the Storefront Improvement Program are outlined in Council Policy 900-17.
Application is available through SeamlessDocs: Storefront Improvement Program Application(link is external).
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Before an application is approved, applicants will be asked to provide basic information about the property; e.g., size, location, building use, current tenants and ownership. Applicants will also be asked to consider what types of improvements they'd like to make, what goals they'd like the improvements to achieve and how much they're able to spend on the projects. Each applicant must include two color, high-resolution photos with his or her completed applications.