Program Objective

The Real Property Investment Grant Program is designed to assist new or relocating businesses, expanding businesses, and commercial property owners with the rehabilitation and redevelopment of interior and exterior spaces to visually enhance the local streetscape, and increase interest in the City of Portsmouth.

Eligibility Guidelines

Eligible applicants:

  • Properties within City of Portsmouth limits that are commercial, industrial, office, or mixed-use.
  • Property owners, who are not the subject business owner, must improve vacant space to:
    • Create a vanilla shell in order to market the property, or
    • Complete tenant improvements for an under-contract new tenant entering into a lease
  • New or existing business owners who are leaseholders and applying for grant funding for tenant improvements must have documentation in the lease that the tenant is responsible for improvements.
  • Entities of local, state, or federal government, religious organizations, and residential-use businesses are prohibited from applying.


Maximum Grant Award: $25,000

Matching requirement: All applications require a 1:1 financial match

Grant Parameters:

  • The Real Property Investment Program is a matching, reimbursement program that requires the applicant to make the initial investment for the full project costs; half of the eligible costs will be paid as a reimbursement, up to the maximum grant award amount
  • Improvements made and/or paid for prior to an issued Grant Agreement will not be reimbursed
  • Applicant and/or property may not have outstanding City of Portsmouth taxes, fees, or code violations (unless the grant funding is to be used to rectify code violations)
  • Applicants are required to submit proof of funds to complete project, documentation of required City of Portsmouth Approvals and Permits, and an outline of project costs with a timeline for completion and two quotes from contractors for project costs
  • In multi-tenant properties, no more than three address locations may receive funding within a five-year period.
  • Business owners making improvements to a leased space must provide a signed letter from the property owner consenting to the improvements.

Grant Submission Schedule

Applications for the 2025 Fiscal year are accepted according to the submission schedule below.

Applications received after the cutoff date will be considered by the Portsmouth EDA in the following round.

Round 1: Open July 1 - 31, 2024
Round 2: Open October 1 - 31, 2024
Round 3: Open January 1 - 31, 2025
Round 4: Open April 1-30, 2025

Application & Approval Process

The Real Property Investment Grant application is a seven-step process. Those interested in applying are required to schedule a pre-application meeting with staff before submission.

The completed Real Property Investment Grant application is to be submitted to Portsmouth Economic Development for review and is not considered submitted if incomplete. Completed applications (those containing all required documentation) will be reviewed to determine completion status and adherence with program guidelines.

Applicants are required to outline which of the two quotes provided will be used in the execution of the project. The Portsmouth Economic Development Authority encourages the use of materials and labor from Portsmouth businesses in the execution of projects utilizing grant funds.

Applications with grant funding requests less than $10,000 may be approved through an administrative process by Portsmouth Economic Development staff. Applications with grant funding requests greater than $10,000 require consideration by the Portsmouth EDA Board of Commissioners.

Approval or denial of an application lies within the discretion of the Portsmouth EDA Board of Commissioners, considering factors such as the degree to which the business activities contemplated by the application further the goals of the program, the degree of the need for the funding, the level of funding requested, the amount of program funds remaining for the fiscal year, and any other factors the Board may deem relevant.

When an application is approved, the applicant will enter into a Grant Agreement with the Portsmouth EDA, agreeing to accept the approved grant funds that will not exceed 50% of actual, verifiable paid expenses up to a maximum of $25,000. Under no circumstances will funds be disbursed at a ratio higher than the matching requirements. Proof of costs paid by the applicant are required before grant funds are to be disbursed.

Portsmouth EDA grant approval is not a factor in obtaining other City of Portsmouth approvals and the qualification standards do not parallel.

Grant Funding

The Real Property Investment Grant is a matching, reimbursement program that requires the applicant to make the initial investment of the full project costs; half of the eligible costs will be paid as a reimbursement, up to the maximum grant amount.

The maximum grant amount available for any approved application is $25,000 per property address, for eligible improvements, for the life of the program. If the maximum grant amount is not exceeded, applicants may re-apply for the same property for the remainder of the $25,000 maximum total reimbursements. In multi-tenant properties, no more than two address locations may receive funding within a five-year period.

Funding is available on a first-come, first served basis until the funding pool has been exhausted each fiscal year as appropriated.

All recipients are required to enter into a Grant Agreement with the Portsmouth Economic Development Authority. Recipients have 120 days to complete approved work after the Grant Agreement is issued. Extensions for an additional 90 days may be granted on a case-by-case basis, but must be requested in writing and include a detailed status of the project, work remaining and estimated timeframe of completion.

Applicant must have all inspections and final Certificate of Occupancy in order to request reimbursement.

Proof of costs paid by the applicant will be required before grant funds are to be disbursed. Required documentation includes copies of contractor invoices, canceled checks, bank statements and/or credit card statements that verify payment. Cash payments are not eligible for reimbursement.

Grant funding payments will not be made if improvements deviate from those outlined in the application and Grant Agreement. Work that was started prior to application approval and projects with outstanding code violations (unless the program grant was used to rectify the violation), will not qualify for reimbursement payment. Grant funds are paid as a one-time reimbursement payment, not draws.

Eligible Activities

Eligible improvements must be permanent and can include any combination of eligible interior, exterior, signage, and/or security modifications or enhancements.

Interior Improvements

  • ADA accessibility modifications
  • Fire suppression and protection
  • Improvements
  • Flooring
  • HVAC systems
  • Interior electrical/lighting
  • Interior plumbing
  • Interior walls
  • Permanent fixtures and equipment (i.e. exhaust hoods, ductwork, built-in freezer, etc)
  • Repair or restoration of architectural detailing
  • Security improvements including entry hardware, access control, cameras, etc (max $2,500)
  • Structural improvements¬†

Exterior Improvements

  • ADA accessibility modifications
  • Decorative fencing
  • Exterior lighting
  • Exterior painting
  • Improvements correcting code violations
  • Landscaping and plants (max $2,500) *
  • Masonry repairs
  • Permanent hardscape improvements *
  • Railings or juliet balconies
  • Removal/replacement of incomplete exterior finishes and materials
  • Restoration of architectural details or removal of materials that cover architectural details
  • Roofing *
  • Screening of service and maintenance areas when visible from adjacent public areas
  • Security improvements to include entry hardware, access control, cameras, etc. (max $2,500)
  • Signage (max $5,000)
  • Utility improvements *
  • Window and cornice flashing and repair *

*in conjunction with other improvements only

NOTE: Improvements made and/or paid for prior to an issued Grant Agreement will not be reimbursed.

Ineligible Activities

  • Billboards
  • Security fencing
  • Maintenance-related work
  • Fees charged by The City of Portsmouth
  • New construction

NOTE: Improvements made and/or paid for prior to an issued Grant Agreement will not be reimbursed.

Required Documentation For Application

All documentation must be submitted by the close of the grant application round.

  • Completed IRS Form W-9
  • Pre-improvement photos of specific areas of property where improvements using grant funding will take place
  • Outline of project costs with a timeline for completion
  • Two quotes from contractors per project component
  • Proposal from chosen contractor(s) that includes drawings/renderings of improvements, an outline of the project costs, and a timeline for completion
  • Copy of chosen contractor(s) Virginia DPOR license and Insurance (if cost exceeds $1,000)
  • Documentation of City of Portsmouth approvals and permits
  • Proof of funds to complete project
  • Copy of City of Portsmouth business license - required from business owners completing improvements
  • Copy of "Articles of Organization" from the Virginia SCC - required from business owners completing improvements
  • Copy of Lease and signed Property Owner Consent Form - required from business owners leasing their space
  • Marketing Plan - required from Property Owners, who are not the subject business owner, and are improving a vacant space