Retail Tenant Improvement Grant
The Downtown Retail Tenant Improvement (TI) Grant is designed to help grow a vibrant and thriving retail climate in Downtown Memphis. This program will support new retail, creative arts & entertainment, and food & beverage based businesses who choose to locate within key corridors and retail nodes.
The Retail TI Grant helps bridge the financial gap between property owner and tenant by providing financial assistance of up to $30,000 on qualified permanent improvements to the interior of a tenant’s space.
The Retail TI Grant program operates as a reimbursable grant. Following grant approval, the applicant may sign the lease and then begin interior work. After all interior work has been completed and the business is open, the applicant will submit receipts to the CCDC and demonstrate compliance with standard closing conditions. At that point, the grant incentive can be reimbursed.
What the Grant is Designed to Do
- Encourage new businesses to open ground-floor locations along priority corridors and within targeted retail nodes
- Motivate property owners to work with tenants to fill long-vacant spaces.
- Increase the total number of retail businesses Downtown.
The Retail TI Grant program will be used strategically in key corridors and retail nodes in Downtown Memphis to implement the recommendations of the DMC’s Retail Action Plan. Please note that this grant program is not an entitlement and not every application will be approved. The CCDC is purposefully concentrating the focus of the program in order to increase the impact of its investment. In most cases, properties need to be located within the Target Areas shown in Appendix II to be eligible. Exceptions may be considered for high-impact projects and strategic priorities. The Target Areas were determined in the Retail Action Plan based on market data and analysis.
In order to be considered potentially eligible for this Grant, the proposed ground-floor business must be (i) an approved retail, (ii) creative arts & entertainment, or (iii) food & beverage business. Funding decisions will ultimately be based on a variety of factors, including consistency with the DMC’s Downtown Master Plan, Retail Strategy, and availability of resources. Funding priority will be given to proposals that are filling a ground-floor space that has been vacant for 24 or more consecutive months.
The Retail TI Grant is designed to assist:
- Tenants interested in ground-floor retail bays with prominent street frontage
- A new business locating within the target area
- An existing business relocating from outside the CBID to within the target area
- An existing business opening an additional location within the target area
The Retail TI Grant is not designed to assist:
- Existing businesses within the target area
- Existing businesses within the CBID who simply wish to change locations
- Office tenants and similar non-retail uses
- Tenants not located on the ground-floor with prominent street frontage
- Ineligible business types include, but are not limited to, liquor, Cannabidiol (CBD) and tobacco stores, adult entertainment and product stores, building developers, and short-term loan businesses.
Who Can Apply
The Retail TI Grant is available from March 23, 2022 – March 19, 2025. The Grant is designed for tenants who will sign a lease with a minimum term of 12 months to occupy ground-floor space. Longer leases are preferred. Applicants must apply for, and receive approval of, a Retail TI Grant prior to signing their lease. Property owners who will also operate an eligible retail business on the ground-floor may apply for this grant.
Eligible Expenses/What the Grant Can Help Pay For
Examples of eligible expenses under the Retail TI Grant include:
- Hazardous materials abatement, such as asbestos removal
- Interior demolition and shell reconstruction
- Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Permanent equipment, plumbing, mechanical, electrical & HVAC
- Permanent lighting
- Windows/doors/commercial storefront
- Historic restoration of interior features
- Permanent interior walls and finishes
- Permanent bar/counter/cash wrap for point of sale
- Architectural/interior design/permitting fees related to the interior improvements
The following expenses are not eligible under the Retail TI Grant:
- Furniture such as tables, chairs, display racks and other similar fixtures
- Temporary or moveable cubicles or partitions to subdivide space
- Moveable equipment, fixtures, or furnishings
- Moving expenses, salaries, working capital, or inventory
- In-kind work performed by the applicant
- Other items deemed by staff as narrowly tailored for a particular use and not potentially beneficial to other future users of the space.