The Belton City Council approved a $20,000 Façade Improvement Grant for Arusha Coffee Co. back in October 2020, and the project is nearly complete.
Located at the corner of East Street and First Street, Arusha Coffee Co. is in the historic Fellrath Building.
The front windows have been rehabbed and the front doors have been restored and painted a teal color to match one door that had already been completed. The brick face of the building has also been specially cleaned. All that’s left for the improvement project at Arusha Coffee Co. is the replacing of the side door on the First Avenue, according to co-owner Jacques Ernst.
Ernst explained that he and owner Hatem Chouchane had planned on doing these improvements out of their own pockets before finding out about the city’s grant program.
The total project was estimated to cost more than $40,000, according to Ernst. The maximum amount given through the grant is $20,000, with $10,000 for each façade and a maximum of two façades (facing two streets.)
Judy Garrett, the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau/ Retail Development Coordinator, said that the grant program has many benefits, such as strengthening locally owned businesses and keeping dollars in the local Belton economy.
“The improvements attract new businesses and shoppers to the area,” she added.
Ernst said these improvements to Arusha Coffee Co. are definitely a plus for Belton, which is a primary goal of Arusha Coffee’s owners. Previously, when the city was redoing the sidewalks in the downtown area, Arusha Coffee chipped in funds for a patio to be added in front of the building, according to Ernst.
“Everything that we do as far as Arusha is for Belton,” Ernst said. “We invest a lot in Arusha by taking care of the property and even paying for the front patio. It makes people want to come visit Belton. It gives Belton a purpose. One of the things I’ve noticed, especially on the weekend, we have a lot of people coming from Harker Heights, Killeen and Fort Hood. They come in to visit Arusha and downtown Belton. There’s a lot of traffic.”
Ernst said that the grant from the city was much needed and helped the business out, especially after the shutdowns and restrictions due the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The remaking of downtown Belton over the past decade is remarkable with the balconies and new storefronts. Much of the progress came about because city leadership incentivized small business owners with Façade Improvement Grants,” said Paul Romer, Public Information Officer for the city of Belton. “East Street improvements over the past three years have been just as impressive. A public project made it much more inviting, and private business owners have added to the progress by improving storefronts.”
Belton Area Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Randy Pittenger said that the impact from the Façade Improvement Grant program is positive.
“Anything you can do to improve the appearance of an area to upgrade, modernize, while keeping the historical significance and that sense of history of those buildings- that’s a win for our community,” Pittenger said. “From a chamber standpoint, we are thrilled that the city is supporting local business development and these enhancements. It’s a great investment in our local businesses, it’s a great investment in our community and again provides an even better environment for people to come to shop and work and live in our community.”
Pittenger said that Arusha Coffee Co. is a very popular gathering place and serves as a special place for not only college students but people of all ages in the community, and especially the business community.
“It has really been an important part of our community and will continue to be, and the work they have done to renovate and to enhance that building has again been part of the revitalization and growth of our downtown area so I’m very happy to see them be successful and to see this kind of work, the investment that the owners have made, but also the city has supported through the Facade Grant.”