Design Assistance Program


The preservation and revitalization of our downtown is one of the cornerstones of long-term and sustainable economic development within our community. We see downtown Charlevoix as the heart of our community with something to offer everyone.

Economic development through historic preservation means that the community is using our built environment and unique architectural and cultural assets as one of our leading economic development tools. 

In order to help maintain, strengthen, and capitalize on a community’s historic resources, Michigan Main Street (MMS) offers communities design assistance to individual property and business owners. 

What is Design Assistance?

Design assistance provides important information and recommendations on exterior and interior improvements that will enhance the appearance of the building and visibility of the business, while maintaining the historic integrity of the building and making it functional for the owner’s current needs. 


To receive design assistance, a property or business owner’s building must be within the local Main Street district and be zoned for commercial or mixed-use.  All buildings within the Main Street district are eligible; the building does not have to be “historic.”  Individual owner-occupied or rental residences without a storefront are not eligible to receive design assistance.

Types of Design Assistance Available

Depending on the needs of the property or business owner, there are several different types of design assistance available:

Design Services

This service is a detailed assessment of façade and integral building system conditions and recommendations for appropriate treatments and improvements. This service will provide a detailed report on the building’s preservation and design needs, with recommended solutions. This service will provide property owners with the information they need to move on to the next step of gathering estimates for the work or connecting with other appropriate project managers. The service has the potential to be used in grant applications, fundraising plans, real estate marketing materials, business recruitment packages, and design education and awareness projects.

  • An on-site visit with the property or business owner, Charlevoix Main Street Director, Design Team representative, and Michigan Main Street Design Specialist discussing: 
  • Short and long-term design improvements
  • Major and minor maintenance and repair needs
  • Paint colors, awning, signage and lighting options


Design package that includes: 

  • Plan for appropriate improvements
  • Schematic color façade drawing
  • Paint samples
  • Example photos
  • Technical or supplemental information to support the recommendations shown in the drawing. 
  • Project implementation plan
  • Review of project pro forma
  • Discussion of financing options

Cost:  There is no charge to the property owner for this service.

Timeline: 6-12 weeks after the on-site visit (Delivery time will vary at different times of the year)

Availability for Charlevoix:  One service, per year

Preservation and Design Consultation

The consultation is a less detailed response than the full design service, intended as a quick response for owners who need guidance to begin planning a rehabilitation project or for owners who will begin work on their buildings in the very near future but are seeking some basic guidance.  Phone call and email interview with the property/business owner, Charlevoix Main Street Director (and/or Design/Economic Vitality committee representative), and Michigan Main Street Design Specialist and/or EV Specialist discussing property or business owner needs, such as:

  • General maintenance and repair needs
  • General design solutions, paint colors, awnings, and signage
  • Help getting started: where to begin in planning a building rehabilitation project
  • Financial options and planning for building rehabilitation projects


  • All receive a brief summary of the discussion
  • Optional, depending on project needs:
    • quick sketch,
    • paint samples,
    • connections with partner support organizations
    • any requested follow-up information

Timeline: 1 day to 4 weeks

Cost:  There is no charge to the property owner for this service.

Availability: Submit application according to Design Services timing, or inquire to make request to submit application if the timing does not suit your needs

Charlevoix Main Street Timing and Application Requirements for Design Services


Applications (attached) will be accepted two times per year:  by the Friday of the 3rd week of December and July.  All applications will be reviewed by the Charlevoix Main Street Design Assistance Review team at its January or August meeting, respectively, according to the following criteria:

  • Fit with Charlevoix Main Street strategic goals and priorities
  • Applicant's desire for change and financial ability to implement the project
  • Applicant's commitment to appropriate design
  • Need for design assistance

Please contact Lindsey Dotson, DDA Main Street Executive Director to answer any questions and provide guidance in completing the application. 

Applicant will be notified within seven (7) business days of approval/disapproval by the Charlevoix Main Street Executive Director.

Design Service applications have to be approved by the Main Street DDA Board of Directors, which may extend the approval process.

Approved applications will be submitted to the Michigan Main Street design specialist.

Michigan Main Street design specialist works with the property owner and Charlevoix Main Street Executive Director to schedule a site visit.

If an application is not approved, the Charlevoix Main Street design team will work with the applicant to address questions or concerns with the design, budget or other issues.

Apply today:

Click here to fill out the online application form.

See below to download a paper copy of the application form.

Design Assistance Application Forms

Design Assistance Example - 216 Bridge Street

Design Services Brochure

Design Assistance example - 115 Bridge Street

115 Bridge Street updated