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Making a More Competitive Downtown Challenge Grant Application 



Downtown Challenge grants are competitive. It is expected that the number of applicants will exceed the available funds. We encourage applicants to contact the ORA in advance of submitting an application. Therefore, priority for funding is made on the criterion below

  The Outdoor Seating Area in the application should ideally:

1. Be located in a Target Zone

     Businesses that are located inside our current Downtown Target Zone will be more likely to be funded that applications from  outside the target

     zones. Please See Target Zones.

2. Shield customers from the sights and sounds of vehicle traffic and parked cars.


     Physical barriers such a decorative kneewalls, fencing, vertical trelisses, plants etc. between the seating and moving traffic/parked cars is strongly               

     encouraged. Sitting right next to car bumpers, hot radiators and headlights is undesireable. Barriers that break the sightlines between seated customers and         cars are especially encouraged. 

3.  Provide shade from the sun.


     Umbrellas would be a minimum, but stronger applications could include potted trees, planting new canopy trees in sidewalk wells, trellises/arbors, or                     overhead canvas/awnings.

4. Make use of green buffers. 


      Potted trees, large plants or other features are encouraged to humanize the space.

5. Be attractive & beautiful, and expresses the business' aesthetic.

    Applicants are encouraged to look at decorating their outdoor spaces with at least as much attention as indoors. Bringing the indoors to outdoors is encouraged.

6. Be a transformative improvement over the current outdoor seating. 

     Strong applications will include a robust improvement over existing spaces, rather than simply requesting support for the status quo. Increasing

     quality of the experience is important. Increasing the amount of outdoor seating, whether expanding on the sidewalk or repurposing parking spaces (i.e.;

     Parklets), is also encouraged where it makes sense to do so.

7. Encourage Pedestrian Traffic: Any sidewalk seating must permit people to be able to walk through the seating area, to come and go between adjacent 

    businesses. Outdoor seating environments that attempt to "cordon off" the entire sidewalk  so that people are blocked from passing through will not be


8. Encourage Adjacent Businesses to Apply: While not explicitly in our review criteria, the ORA strongly encourages business that are adjacent/nearby to

    submit applications. Success of outdoor seating, and downtown in general, is strengthened when there are multiple high-quality destinations on the same


NOTE: Any use of public space will require approval of the City of Oswego. 

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