Downtown Greensboro damage - Commerce Place

Graffiti on the side of the Commerce Building on Commerce Place in downtown Greensboro is shown here on Monday, June 1, 2020. The building was vandalized during overnight protests.

GREENSBORO – Downtown and other businesses damaged in the hours after peaceful protests in May can apply now for some of the $250,000 fund the city has created to help with property repairs.

Downtown Greensboro Inc., a nonprofit agency that promotes business and development downtown, is tasked with distributing up to $3,000 per business from a fund approved last week by the Greensboro City Council.

The agency said Wednesday in a news release that businesses can begin the qualification process by filling out an online form.

Council approved the plan 8-1 to help businesses that suffered damage after protests the nights of May 30-31 when some people turned destructive, breaking windows and setting fires, mostly in downtown. The protests followed the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of police.

About 50 businesses were damaged, city officials said last week, including several in other parts of the city. The most notable was a fire that destroyed a Mattress Firm store on Lawndale Drive, causing an estimated $835,000 in damage.

Council members engaged in a long and sometimes contentious discussion about the proposal, which, they said, was presented to them with flaws.

One question that council members debated was the role business insurance plays in the process, and whether companies that have insurance should be included in the relief program.

Some businesses, council members argued, have insurance but it includes deductibles. Others may have insurance that doesn’t cover broken glass damage. Still others may not file claims because they fear their insurance company will drop coverage.

Councilwoman Sharon Hightower suggested that council would send the message that it values property over people and that downtown businesses were getting special treatment not always afforded businesses in other parts of the city.

DGI President and CEO Zack Matheny said Wednesday in a news release “we are keenly aware that incidences spilled out beyond our downtown borders.”

He said that businesses will have to answer a questionnaire to begin the qualifying process.

The agency will create a database of businesses based on losses and insurance coverage. It will then work out qualifications “for providing equitable financial assistance on a per business or address basis.”

The online form asks businesses what type of damage they sustained, what the estimated value of the loss is, whether they had to install boards to protect their business and whether they filed a police report.

It also asks: “Does insurance cover these damages? If so, what amount is covered and what is your deductible?”

Businesses can access the form here, or find more information at downtowngreenboro.org, COVID-19 resources.

Contact Richard M. Barron at 336-373-7371 and follow @BarronBizNR on Twitter.

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