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Storefront Improvement Program

Storefront Improvement Program Wheat and Water rendering

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. In FY2021, the SIP completed 18 projects throughout the City and provided $148,500 in incentives, leveraging $235,400 in private funds.

Eligibility Guidelines

All applications are subject to review for eligibility. SIP is open to small businesses (25 or fewer employees) that are located in the City of San Diego and have a valid business tax certificate. Applicants 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.

Eligible Improvements: These include the repair, replacement or new applications of awnings, windows, doors, lighting, paint, landscaping, tile or other decorative material and signs. 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.

Program Incentives

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 property owners with a commercial building that leases to multiple small business tenants one-half of the eligible construction costs up to a $16,000 maximum. Each qualified tenant must have his or her own street-facing entrance.
  • Promise Zone: Awards participants an additional 30% above their approved reimbursement amount.

Application Guidelines

The guidelines and procedures of the Storefront Improvement Program are outlined in PDF icon Council Policy 900-17.

Application is available through SeamlessDocs: Storefront Improvement Program Application.

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Before an application is approved, applicants will be asked to provide basic information about the property; e.g., size, location, building use, current tenants and 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 include two color, high-resolution photos with his or her completed applications.

The program administrator will contact you 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.

Storefront Improvement Program Successes

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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" 

The Sanctuary Wellness Experience, Ocean Beach, Storefront Improvement Program

The Sanctuary Wellness Experience, Ocean Beach, Storefront Improvement Program, After

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 

Wheat&Water before Storefront Improvement Program

Wheat&Water After Storefront Improvement Program

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

Photo of Good Vibrations Family Chiropractic Before Renovation

Photo of Good Vibrations Family Chiropractic After Renovation

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 

Cafe Madeleine II before

Cafe Madeleine II after