Seven Austin businesses have been awarded grants under a new city program designed to help businesses on the West and South sides. In all, 51 businesses citywide are receiving $5 million in Retail Thrive Zone business improvement grants.

The grants, worth up to $250,000 each, can be used to improve commercial buildings with new roofs, facades, plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling systems.

Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29) congratulated grant recipients in a recent Facebook post: “The 29th Ward’s businesses were blessed with receiving over $558,000 in grant money to help build a better Chicago Avenue (Soul City Corridor).

“Thanks to Malcolm Crawford, Charmaine Rickettes and AAABNA for all of your hard work in partnering with the Department of Planning and Development in rolling out this effort,” the alderman wrote.

The new city program, funded with money from Tax Increment Financing districts, is targeting commercial corridors in Austin and several other neighborhoods, including Back of the Yards, Bronzeville and Englewood, according to DNAinfo Chicago.

Here are the Austin businesses receiving the first round of grants:

  • Bitoy’s Sweet Treats (5957 W. Chicago Ave.) for construction of an outdoor seating area for the neighborhood sweets shops.
  • Charday’s Barber Cuts & Beauty Salon, 5661 W. Chicago Ave., for renovation of a longstanding neighborhood barber shop.
  • Chicago Eats Sports Bar, 5312 W. Chicago Ave., for build out of a new family friendly sports bar that will feature a variety of Chicago specialties.
  • Frank Lewis’ property, 5241 W. Chicago Ave., for renovation of the property, so it can house a modern breakfast-oriented restaurant.
  • Ike’s Place for Blues and Jazz, 5847 W. Chicago Ave., for build out of a new blues and jazz club as part of the “Soul City Corridor.” (The venue is named for former Ald. Ike Carothers, who will be playing his saxophone at the club, according to the Chicago Tribune).
  • L. Maycreations, 5936 W. Chicago Ave., for build out for a jewelry store that will offer spoken word poetry nights and arts classes for children.
  • Westside Health Authority, 5246 W. Chicago Ave., for redevelopment of four vacant storefronts that will provide retail space to local entrepreneurs and artists.