Back to Department Listings

Economic Development Home Page

Doing Business Here

Downtown Development

Business Parks


Economic Development: Downtown Development

20 Centre Street, third floor
Middleborough, MA 02346
(508) 946-2402

Janis K. Akerstrom, Director

A sign and façade program has provided partial funding to several downtown businesses for signage and façade improvements.

Beautification efforts have expanded in the downtown to include plantings and installation of hanging and railing planters, in collaboration with Mimi Duphily.

OECD supports a Buy-Local Program campaign that kicked-off with December holiday downtown events that is being expanded in 2011. In addition, the OECD staff regularly meet with and distribute relevant information to business owners and facilitate training.

For more information on activities or to provide comments or suggestions please visit our office at 20 Centre Street, third floor or contact 508-946-2402 or



Signage & Façade Programs

A sign and façade program has provided partial funding to several downtown businesses for signage and façade improvements. One of the keys to Middleborough's ongoing revitalization will be the continued improvement of the building signage and façades in the downtown district.

Studies from around the country clearly indicate that the more aesthetically pleasing a downtown is, the more viable it is. In order to create an incentive for merchants and building owners to replace or improve their primary business signage, the Town of Middleborough offers matching grants for new signs.

Currently monies for this program have been spent down for the remainder of the fiscal year. Please contact OECD for information about the return of this program.

Façade Guidelines

A property/business owner who is located within the Downtown target area is eligible to apply for either or both a facade and a sign/awning grant. A commercial facade is generally deemed to be that surface which is visible from the public street. Roofs, in general, are not covered by this definition. Corner buildings, on the other hand, usually have two facades with are visible from public rights of way both of which would be eligible for funding.

Because this program was created to induce greater private investment in Middleborough’s Downtown Business District, properties with certain characteristics are most likely to be approved for facade grants as well as sign and awning grants. Those characteristics include, but are not limited to:

It is important for eligible owners and businesses to understand that this program reimburses property/business owners for up to 50% maximum of the construction cost. Grant funds are NOT made payable to an applicant until all work is completed and inspected, and documentation has been submitted showing design and construction costs incurred for the project as well as the recording of a preservation covenant. In the case of facades, a lump sum grant is the method of paying applicants in consideration of their agreement to abide by a recorded preservation agreement. Sign/awning grants are paid in exchange for an applicant's voluntary consent to abide by similar preservation conditions in an instrument maintained by the TOWN. This program does not finance construction or commercial loans. The OECD will assist you in obtaining an interim loan, if necessary, to finance the construction costs.

Signage Eligibility Guidelines

Signs are one of the most prominent elements on a store. Well designed signs add interest and variety to a building’s façade and enliven the street scene. Poorly designed signs confuse customers and detract from an otherwise attractive storefront. Compelling and legible signs are not necessarily the largest and brightest. In a cluttered downtown, restraint is an effective way to capture attention. The sign is an inexpensive place to begin projecting a store’s image. Carefully select materials, typeface, and color. A sign must be regularly maintained. Good sign design considers all of the following factors: layout, composition, materials, color, size, graphics, typeface, and installation.

1. When a building façade contains a panel designed to carry a sign (usually above the storefront), you may consider locating the sign on that panel.

2. Align multiple signs on a building and with adjacent and neighboring buildings.

3. When signs share a building, coordinate the shapes, materials, colors, typefaces, and graphics.

4. Signs should not hide architectural detailing such as cornices, moldings, and decorative trim.

5. Sign messages should emphasize business identity: name and principle product.

6. Street numbers should be prominently displayed for pedestrians and motorists. Numbers should be compatible with sign and storefront design.

7. Illuminate signs from the front.

8. Three dimensional signs (carved wood and raised letter signs) are encouraged.

9. Merchandising/advertising messages should be in temporary displays, not in the sign.

10. Use logos where possible; “one picture is worth a thousand words.”

11. Choose typeface to complement the store’s image. A message of “modern” or “casual” can easily be conveyed by lettering style.

12. Symbols and borders are good ways to decorate a sign and aid quick identification.

13. Window signs may be on boards hung in the window, or lettering may be painted directly on the glass. The latter is preferred because it does not block views. Maximum window sign size is 15% of glass area.

14. Signs should be stationary, without moving or flashing letters.

15. Individual letters may be mounted directly on the building in such a way that important details or materials are not hidden.

16. Signs should be properly installed. Hardware should be either shielded from view or selected as a special design feature.

17. Use rust-proof hardware.

18. Use color to enhance the store’s activity and image. Use matte or flat backgrounds to reduce reflective glare and enhance legibility. Select colors that keep the sign message clear. Use 2-3 basic colors.

19. Use legible typeface and simple compositions. Lettering should have some blank space around it. Lowercase lettering is usually easier to read than uppercase. Lettering packed tightly on the sign is hard to read.

20. Contrast letter color with the sign surface so that the message is clear. Light lettering on a dark background is generally easier to read than dark on light. Dark show-lines or outlines may be used to make lettering more prominent.

21. Use colors that do not “bleed” or fade quickly.

22. Sign Dimensions (Below Dimensions are from the Downtown Business District Adopted Zoning Changes-Sign Standards)

a. The display of 1 free standing sign placed on the property pertaining to the use

or uses of the premises with a total area of not more than 12 square feet in surface area per side. Said free standing sign shall be limited to 2 sides and total sign height shall not exceed 15 feet.

b. A wall mounted sign with up to one square foot of sign per running foot of a front building wall. The length of the sign shall not exceed 60% of the front building wall length.

c. Signs may be permitted to overhang a public way or project from the front face of the building, provided they do not exceed 9 square feet in surface area per side. Such signs shall not project more than 3 feet from the front face of the building wall and shall be at least 8 feet above the ground.

23. Follow this rule of thumb for letter size: allow 50 feet of reading distance for each inch or letter height.

24. In general, letter heights should not exceed 16 inches.

25. Temporary signs should not be left in place any longer than 30 days.

26. At gas stations, all signage information should fit on no more than one large freestanding sign.

Downtown Beautification Project

The Office of Economic & Community Development has partnered with community members to make improvements to make the downtown area more attractive and appealing to community members, businesses and visitors. Some of the projects implemented recently are:

Future Planned Downtown Beautification Activities: