First National Bank of Brookfield, 9136 Washington Ave. | FILE

Launched in 2021 as an incentive for business and commercial property owners in Brookfield’s tax increment financing districts to improve building facades, about a half dozen people have participated in the village’s Property Improvement Program (PIP), which reimburses owners 50 percent of an improvement project’s cost up to $20,000.

Now, First National Bank of Brookfield is hoping to give an extra nudge to any property or business owner who may be on the fence about applying for a PIP reimbursement grant.

Phil Richard, the bank’s president and CEO, announced last month that First National Bank of Brookfield will also offer interest-free loans of up to $20,000 to anyone applying for a PIP grant in order to give the program a little more heft.

“Obviously, as the community bank in town, we support community efforts to spruce up older businesses that didn’t necessarily have the funding,” Richard said. “We loved the idea of PIP. As a bank that does construction loans, this is in our wheelhouse.”

Because anyone applying for a PIP grant from the village has to go through a vetting process prior to getting the village’s OK, Richard said First National Bank wanted to streamline its process for those businesses or property owners to also obtain an interest free loan.

“We wanted to make it as simple as possible,” Richard said. “Every PIP grant has to go through a village process. That gives the bank comfort that they’ve already been approved. We’re trying to support both the village and businesses.”

Terms of the interest-free loans vary slightly depending on whether they are secured by a lien, but they must be paid back within three to five years. The loans are provided up front in order to get construction started as quickly as possible.

“We don’t want to intimidate people,” Richard said. “If you meet these criteria, you’ve got the loan.”

Qualifying projects are limited to buildings within the Ogden Avenue, Eight Corners or Grand Boulevard TIF districts, since TIF revenues are being used to fund the village’s reimbursement program

First National Bank of Brookfield is making a total of $200,000 available to the no-interest loan program for projects qualifying for the PIP reimbursement.

“We’re looking at it as an initial commitment,” said Richard, who is also a member of the new Brookfield Economic Development Commission, an advisory board created last year to help focus on business-friendly initiatives. “Depending on the success of the program, we’re willing to commit more.”

Among those properties where PIP funds have been used to make exterior building improvements are Brennan Massage & Spa, 3700 Grand Blvd.; The Shop Salon & Style House, 3735 Grand Blvd.; Betty’s Flower and Gifts, 9138 Broadway Ave.; and the property at 9037-49 Monroe Ave.

The properties at 3741-43 and 3745 Grand Blvd., which remain under construction, also were approved last September for a PIP grant in the amount of $20,000 for façade improvements.

Property and business owners interested in participating in the PIP program can visit the village’s website at and click the Property Improvement Program link on the Community Development Department page.