ach day thousands of people drive, bike and walk by the classic old brick buildings of Uptown Racine.
In years past, they were neighborhood grocery and drug stores, tailors and doctors' offices, and their owners often lived upstairs with their families.
But shopping habits and demographics changed, and so did Uptown.
Today, although several businesses continue to thrive in Uptown, many of the sturdy old buildings sit unused or under-used. These are now the building blocks of the new Uptown Racine Arts District.
Most of the Uptown buildings have airy retail or studio space on the first floor with one or more apartments above. With care, attention and a creative touch, they offer perfect work/live/own opportunities for artists.
Several properties are currently for sale by the City of Racine or private owners. More will be soon. And because real estate prices have not exploded like they have in other parts of the country, prices remain down to earth. See current properties for sale.
Even at a good price, buying property can be daunting especially since most of the properties require at least some amount of rehabbing. In response, the City of Racine has developed an innovative buyer assistance program called the Uptown Racine Artist Relocation Program.
The program provides financial assistance to help qualifying artists purchase and then rehab property in the Uptown Racine Arts District. The program also provides one-on-one assistance to help artists navigate the financial waters and find trusted contractors and tradesmen.
Funding for the program draws on economic development resources from the City of Racine, Racine County Economic Development Corporation, and the State of Wisconsin.
Financial assistance to artists includes:
- Low-cost second mortgage loans through the Racine County Economic Development Corporation (RCEDC).
- Low-cost mortgage and small business loans through the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA).
Additionally, a Façade Grant from the City of Racine reimburses a property owner 50% of the total cost of a façade renovation up to $10,000 and a $3,000 grant for Design Services from the Uptown Business Improvement Distrist. Additional financing programs may also be available to artists depending on their unique situations.
The City of Racine and Racine County Economic Development Corporation have dedicated representatives to help qualifying artists identify appropriate properties, understand their rehab issues, and then determine the most effective loan and grant package.
Interested artists should contact the Uptown Racine Arts District coordinator to determine eligibility and next steps:
Community Development Manager
Racine County Economic Development Corporation