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DRA Retail Up-Fit Grant

The goal of this program is to create an incentive to attract new retail businesses and aid in the expansion of existing retail businesses in Downtown Raleigh.

  • Attract new businesses that provide needed/desired services or products within downtown to address demand of residents, employees and visitors, as well as increase foot traffic and create a viable commercial core.
  • Stimulate private investment in retail within downtown through property improvement, business development or expansion.
  • Contribute to the overall value of downtown by encouraging more retail, which makes downtown a more vibrant, sustainable, livable place and adds value to other businesses and investments in downtown.

Property Improvement Assistance: Provide financial assistance for renovations, improvements, and build outs of existing spaces.


  • All retail businesses looking to locate within downtown or retail property owners located within downtown, with preference given to those new businesses occupying first-floor space with a street-front presence, which complement the downtown retail mix and help strengthen the existing retail clusters.
  • Additionally, existing retail businesses looking to expand by 30% or more in downtown are eligible.
  • Must have a business license.
  • Determination of eligibility is subject to DRA and city discretion.

The following types of businesses are eligible:

  • Apparel/other clothing
  • Shoes and boots
  • Home furnishings and furniture
  • Specialty food stores/grocers/gourmet establishments such as fruit and produce markets, seafood, butcher shops, bodegas, etc.
  • Pharmacies
  • Bookstores, music, entertainment media stores
  • Electronics
  • Health and Personal Services
  • Used Merchandise stores
  • Toys and games, hobbies
  • Gift card/stationary
  • Sporting goods stores
  • Jewelry stores
  • Crafting or production workshops such as glass blowing, ceramic/pottery, antique reclamation

Ineligible businesses include bars, restaurants, financial services, offices, or any uses that do not allow for the sale of products or services to the general public.

Program details

  • Approval by DRA and City of Raleigh economic development office
  • Will spend 50 cents for every dollar the applicant spends on property improvements up to $7,500
  • First come-first serve basis.

Qualifying Project Expenditures

The following tenant build-out improvements include:

  • Design work, drawings, renderings associated with the project
  • Mechanical, electrical, plumbing work for the build-out
  • HVAC, fire suppression, costs of bringing building up to current code
  • Permits and inspections
  • Flooring
  • Lighting
  • Attached fixtures and/or the installation of fixtures
  • Accessibility compliance
  • Environmental remediation
  • Restrooms
  • Utility upgrades
  • Construction of new walls/demolition of unnecessary existing walls

Timeline of process

  • Pre-application review: a preliminary meeting with DRA and/or city economic development staff to discuss the proposal and provide guidance to the applicant.
  • Application submittal: Prospects submit the application with necessary components listed below including business plan, costs, timeline, etc. Staff review all materials and may contact prospects with questions.
  • Decision: DRA and city economic development staff will make the final determination on approval or denial of the grant.
  • Grant agreement: approved applicants will be required to execute a Grant Agreement in which the grantor agrees to pay for the authorized work and grantee agrees to complete the work in accordance with the approved application.
  • Issuance of Reimbursement: After installation and completion of the project improvements agreed upon, the grantee submits all invoices to the grantor. After the grantor determines that the invoices are correct and the work has been completed, the reimbursement will be issued.

Submission requirements

  • Completed application
  • Business Plan for the venture (See Appendix 1 for more detail) including:
    • Concept description and target market
    • Funding description for the project and three year cash flow pro forma
    • Proposed timeline for project construction and projected opening date
    • Floor plan/layout of physical space, including square footage and existing fixtures
    • Renderings or photographs of proposed improvements to the interior
  • Detailed description and cost sheet for tenant space build-out
  • Photographs of existing conditions
  • If the applicant is a lessee, provide written consent from the property owner giving permission to conduct improvements
  • Architectural drawings or renderings of the improvements to reflect placement, materials, and colors to be used.
  • Proof of funds for the project construction
  • Detailed proposal from a licensed, bonded contractor reflecting work to be performed and associated costs.

Upon Approval

Any changes to the project must be approved by DRA/City, in order to qualify for reimbursement. Once the grant is approved, the grantee has six months to begin construction and one year to complete the project and open for business. If one or both of these criteria are not met, then the grantee will be notified in writing that the grant is terminated. Grantees can request an extension if nearing the 6-month or one year lapse points. One extension may be granted, per project, at the discretion of DRA/City.

Release of Funds

This program will offer grants on a reimbursement basis only. Funds will be dispersed only after all projects are completed, paid invoices for eligible projects submitted to DRA/City and the grantee is open for business and met all conditions in the grant’s contractual agreement.

Download the Application for DRA's Retail Up-Fit Grant

For more information about applying for this program, contact:

Roxanne Lundy
Storefront Manager
Downtown Raleigh Alliance
333 Fayetteville Street, Suite 1150
Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 821-6977