Efforts to retain and improve retail space along the State Street corridor, around the Capitol Square and on King Street could soon get a boost from the city.

A proposed grant program working its way through city committees would make available $540,000 over the next two years for interior improvements to businesses in the designated area, that roughly matches the Downtown Business Improvement District.

The goal of the program, capped at $50,000 per applicant, is to improve retail space and make it viable for future retail tenants, too. The program is open to both building owners and tenants with leases of more than five years.

“There’s a lot of support for it from property owners and retailers,” said Ruth Rohlich, a business development specialist with the city’s Economic Development Division. “The hope is that it would be for improvements to spaces that would continue to be a value even if that particular retailer isn’t there.”

The projects could include heating, air conditioning and electrical improvements; the construction of customer restrooms, flooring, lighting, windows, doors and improvements to walls and ceilings. The grants would also cover loading dock, storage and store room repairs and construction but would not be approved for things like furniture, racks and shelving that can be easily removed, according to the guidelines of the program.

Rohlich said she’s hoping the program will be approved at the Oct. 6 City Council meeting.

Dunn’s Marsh grocery

The Dunn’s Marsh Neighborhood Association is urging its members to get involved with planning for a proposed grocery store.

In its September newsletter, the association, which represents parts of Madison and Fitchburg, highlighted a series of meetings for residents to attend to show support for and provide input on the ambitious project, dubbed the Allied Community Co-op.

The city earlier this year put out a request for proposals for a grocery store in the area of Verona Road and the Beltline with as much as $300,000 over three years in public money available in the form of a low-interest or forgivable loan.

A proposal from the ACC, with support from Willy Street Co-op and the UW-Madison Center for Cooperatives, was accepted but now needs to wind its way through the city’s approval process.

At 4:30 p.m. Monday, for example, the Board of Estimates meets in Room 260 of the Madison Municipal Building to discuss funding. Final approval could come from the City Council on Nov. 10.

On Saturday, about 20 families from the neighborhood attended a meeting of the co-op.

“If we in the neighborhood don’t advocate and show up in numbers it will show we don’t have support,” said Mary Mullen, who helped found the neighborhood association in 1973.

“I think there’s support. Whether people can turn out is another matter. There are a lot of people who don’t have cars.”

The neighborhood was at one time home to a Super Saver, Cub Foods and a Walgreens but all have closed, leaving many residents in the low-income neighborhood without a convenient grocery option.

The proposal projects the grocery opening in 2018, but as of now a location has not been determined.

Mullen said some have suggested the former Walgreens building but that is likely too large and expensive, she said. Plans call for about a 2,000-square-foot store.

New home store

A Milwaukee-based home decor and interior design shop is expanding to Madison.

Kate Kazlo, who founded her 2,200-square-foot Home Market store in 2006 in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward District just south of downtown, has announced plans for a 1,500-square-foot store in the Hilldale Shopping Center.

Kazlo said the store will be located near Kate Spade and Sur La Table and will open in March.

The Home Market Specializes in custom slip-covered and upholstered furniture, home accents, bedding and lighting.

A brand ‘Refresh’

Large and small businesses are invited to a free seminar on Oct. 7 to help them better understand social media, marketing and how to build a brand.

The event called “Refresh” is being held on the production floor of Wisconsin Brewing Co. in Verona and is being presented by Kramer Madison. The town of Westport firm was founded in 1936 as a printing company but has expanded into marketing, branding, website design and promotions.

The four-hour conference will include presentations by Don Stanley, a social media professor at UW-Madison and Andy Crestodina, co-founder of Orbit Media, a 35-employee Web design company in Chicago.

The conference will begin with a talk by Carl Nolen, president of Wisconsin Brewing, and Wayne Glowac, a longtime marketing professional now with Kramer, on how the brewery that opened in 2013 created a brand from scratch.

To register go to www.kramermadison.com.

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Send retail-related tips and story ideas to badams@madison.com or call Barry Adams at 608-252-6148.

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Barry Adams covers regional and business news for the Wisconsin State Journal.