Storefront Improvement Program
The Storefront Improvement Program (SIP) revitalizes building facades visible to customers, neighboring merchants and residents. The City of San Diego provides free professional design assistance and financial incentives to small business owners who wish to make a creative change to and improve the curb appeal of their storefronts.
This program is set up to help small businesses create and implement a plan for improving their street-facing appearance. Program steps start with an eligible applicant completing the online application. Next, the City works with applicants to create a design plan, considering the budget and goals of the project. Once a design plan is finalized, the applicant can begin the installation of the agreed upon design elements. The final step is to submit all expense documentation for reimbursement.
In FY2023 (ending June 30, 2023) , the SIP completed 14 projects throughout the City and provided $84,560 in incentives, leveraging $168,474 in private funds. The guidelines and procedures of the Storefront Improvement Program are outlined in Council Policy 900-17.
The City of San Diego offers three different rebate options through the SIP:
- Standard: Awards the applicant for one-half of the eligible construction costs up to an $8,000 maximum.
- Historic Restoration: Awards the applicant for two-thirds of the eligible construction costs up to a $12,000 maximum. Historic photos showing the property as it will be restored to must be submitted.
- Multiple-Tenant Commercial: Awards the applicant one-half of the eligible construction costs up to a $16,000 maximum. The applicant must be the property owner and one of at least three (3) street-facing businesses.
- Promise Zone: Awards participants an additional 30% above their approved reimbursement amount.
All applications are subject to review for eligibility.
Requirements: The SIP is open to small businesses (25 or fewer employees) that are located in the City of San Diego, face a public street, and have a valid business tax certificate. The applicant must be a commercial occupant of the subject property.
Program Exclusions: National franchises, office buildings larger than 80,000 square feet, residential rental buildings (apartments), home-based businesses, storefronts that do not face the public right-of-way, government-owned and -occupied buildings, churches and other religious institutions are not eligible. Properties that have received a SIP rebate within the past five years and projects that have already begun or completed renovations/construction are also ineligible. Applicants who have applied in the past two years are not eligible.
Eligible Improvements: These include the installation of new awnings, windows, doors, lighting, paint, landscaping, tile or other decorative material and signs. Improvements categorized as maintenance are not eligible. The removal of security bars and code compliance for signage violations are also eligible for the rebate.
The design parameters include:
- Telling the story of the business through good design;
- Respecting original features of the building, including the use of color and suitable materials;
- Limiting additional signage by incorporating it into the building's design; and
- Using of suitable landscaping that will aid in the preservation of community scale and character.
Applicants will be asked to provide basic information about the property, including ownership. Applicants will also be asked to consider what types of improvements they'd like to make, what goals they'd like the improvements to achieve and how much they're able to spend on the projects. Each applicant must upload two photos from different views of the storefront with their application submittal. A refundable deposit of $250 will be collected soon after the application is approved.
The program administrator will contact applicants via email within 7 business days of application submittal. Be sure to check your Spam inbox for any emails ending in “@sandiego.gov” if you do not receive communication within that time.
The SIP Application is available through SeamlessDocs. To optimize SeamlessDocs functionality, please use Mozilla Firefox, Chrome or Safari browsers.
Storefront Improvement Program Successes
The Sanctuary Wellness Experience | Ocean Beach
1955 Cable St., San Diego, CA 92107
Completed: FY2017 | Total cost: $15,124 total construction | SIP incentive: $7,526
Key improvements: Sleek signage, sustainable landscaping, lightning, minimalist paint scheme and facade mosaic with title branches for "love," "kindness," "gentleness," "faith," and joy"
Wheat & Water | La Jolla
5737 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla, CA 92037
Completed: FY2017 | Total cost: $54,108 total construction | SIP incentive: $11,479
Key improvements: New doors, windows, a sidewalk patio, stucco walls, new paint, tile and signage
Good Vibrations Family Chiropractic | Kensington-Talmadge Community Planning Area
4060 Adams Ave., San Diego, CA 92116
Completed: FY2017 | Total cost: $21,305 total construction | SIP incentive: $8,000
Key improvements: New paint, wood paneling at entrance and window trim, new landscaping, accent lighting
Cafe Madeleine North Park | Greater North Park Community Planning Area
2850 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, CA 92104
Completed: Nov. 1, 2016 | Total cost: $24,462 | SIP incentive: $8,000
Key improvements: Fresh paint scheme, new doors, new windows, planter boxes, signage