By Tyler Renaud 
BELLEVILLE – Apparently what’s on the outside does count, as a restoration company recently found out.
The facade improvement program  is an effort to improve the esthetic appeal of the downtown core, says Greg Pinchin, the city’s special projects planner.
“It’s a grant program that provides financial incentives to properties or tenants downtown that want to fix up the front of their buildings, or in some cases the backs or the sides of their buildings,” Pinchin told QNet News. “Any area area visible from the public streets is eligible for funding that is sympathetic to the heritage character of the downtown.”
After the restoration project is complete, the city inspects the work and if it meets its approval, the owners could be reimbursed up to 75 per cent of costs. The grants are drawn from the city budget, according to Pinchin.
Zubin Gillespie of Buhran Developments received the grant, but the buildings’ previous owner originally applied for it.
Gillespie cleaned up the appearance of his building, Pinchin said.
“He has made quite a few improvements. The front of the building is red brick on the second and third storeys – that has all been cleaned as there was paint on it before.
“The masonry underneath certainly has much more of a nice vintage character with the original red brick. He’s installed custom-built wooden windows on the second and third floors. He’s redone the storefronts in terms of repairs to the sign board and painting it in heritage colours.”
Urban Escape Cafe at 279 Front St. is one of the renovated spaces. The other is available for a business tenant.