A new look can breathe new life into a struggling business.

That’s why Projet Montreal is asking the city to re-launch its renovation subsidy program in an effort to help revitalize Montreal’s commercial streets.

Completed two years ago, the PRAM-Commerce program offered about $12 million in renovation subsidizes to Montreal retailers.

Up to $4000 was given per design projectto cover 50 per cent of design fees for a business, or up to $33,000 per building to cover one-third of renovation work.

It’s a program that needs to carry on, said Projet Montreal city councillor Erika Duchesne.

“We want to continue this program, because it's important. The commercial streets are the heart of the boroughs and it's important for us that they thrive,” said Duchesne.

The City of Montreal is analyzing the data from the last round of subsidies. At that time, out of the 40 zones targeted, only 8 per cent of merchants applied.

“We have to see how we can increase the participation of business owners and we need time to analyze the data, so we're not saying yes or no,” said Harout Chitilian, vice chairman of the city’s executive committee.

Any merchant in Montreal would be able to use the program.            

The Plaza St. Hubert merchants’ association is keen to take part. It is currently revamping the area, recently rolling out a new traffic plan that removed some parking spaces and reducing the street to one lane to minimize congestion.
The PRAM-Commerce fund would add to the street's improvements by helping to fix crumbling exteriors and make the whole area more consumer friendly, said Plaza St. Hubert merchants’ association spokesperson Sophie Legroulx.             

Simon Landry, owner of Pousse L’Ananas, a fruit and vegetable market on St. Hubert St., said he would apply if the funds were available. 

“We don't have much light inside so we'd like to maybe do something else, something for the summer,” he said. “Maybe some open windows.”

It can be a big help, said Michael Semaan, owner of Cuisine Plus, which sells kitchen supplies. Semaan took advantage of the subsidy when it was last available.

“The customer is comfortable and they come back. They recognize themselves in the store,” he said.               

Projet Montreal plans to propose the re-launch of PRAM-Commerce program next week.