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Sidewalk Cafe Furniture Grant Program

Create a space to build community and attract customers with support from the Downtown Sidewalk Cafe Furniture Grant Program.

Downtown Lansing Inc. (DLI)’s Sidewalk Cafe Furniture Grant Program encourages downtown businesses to create or improve sidewalk cafes or outdoor patios to further enhance a friendly, inviting atmosphere and inspire foot traffic. Through this program, businesses can receive one-time grants of up to $1,000 for sidewalk cafe furniture or decorative fencing specified in an approved site plan. This could include furniture elements like tables, chairs, umbrellas, and decorative fencing.

Sidewalk Cafe Furniture Grant Application


Eligible Businesses

To be eligible for this grant, your business must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Be a property owner or tenant operating a business within the “A” District of the Principal Shopping District (PSD).
  • Have all property (real and personal) taxes and utilities obligations to the City of Lansing paid in-full to date. The applicant must submit the attached Lansing Treasury Information Request Form stating that the applicant is not delinquent on any debts owed to the City of Lansing. The completed form must be faxed to the Treasurer’s Office at 517-483-6084.
  • Not have any pending litigation against the City.
  • Meet all state and local code and licensing requirements for your business.


Qualified Furniture and Style

Patio items must be complementary to the aesthetic character of downtown and be of quality materials and workmanship so as to sustain outdoor use. We encourage furniture styles that are practical and elegant, and integrate well with the surrounding cityscape. Applicants must also adhere to the following furniture guidelines as outlined in DLI’s Operational Guidelines and Supplement to Use of Public Right of Way Permits under Sections 3.1 through 3.7.

All furniture items, including umbrellas, will be subject to the approval of DLI’s Design Committee. Applicants are strongly encouraged to seek the assistance of the Design Committee when selecting furnishings.



The layout and orientation of furniture should be chosen according to the extent and shape of the available space. The facility’s management is responsible to ensure patrons maintain furniture within the boundaries of the approved seating area. For safety reasons, chairs must not be placed with their backs to the curb in curbside locations.



Sidewalk cafes should enrich the pedestrian experience and public life and be accessible to all users. Therefore, it is important that they present an open, inviting image and are easily accessible from the pedestrian walkway, meeting ADA accessibility requirements.


Decorative Fencing

While low screens that delineate the outdoor dining area are permitted, full-height solid screens are not. Proposals for the use of framed fabric or any other style of low-height barriers (including planter boxes) are to be submitted to DLI staff and the Design Committee for approval prior to installation. Decorative fencing may be considered between adjoining cafe areas to separate the areas.


Umbrellas and Shade Structures

To qualify for this grant, umbrellas and other shade structures must:

  • Be properly secured to ensure that they are at all times securely fixed to withstand the effects of wind. Fixtures that penetrate or damage the pavement will not be permitted.
  • Be removed or closed in extremely windy conditions and must be removed when the outdoor seating area is not in use.
  • Not encroach on, or interfere with pedestrian movement, and must be at least 7 ft. above ground level.
  • Be manufactured from fire retardant materials if placed adjacent to a heating device.
  • Be maintained in sound and aesthetically acceptable condition.
  • Only have advertising on umbrellas if it complies with the advertising and signage provisions of this policy.
  • Market style umbrellas are preferred. Beach umbrellas are not permitted.



Eligible furniture must be strong, durable, waterproof, weather-resistant, and designed for commercial outdoor use. The design must not contain parts that are likely to cause damage to the pavement, and structures must prioritize public safety and comfort. Sharp edges, hinges, and or other moving parts must not present a potential hazard to users.



Furniture color schemes must be noted in the grant application. White table surfaces, chair seats/backs, and umbrellas are discouraged due to the tendency for rapid deterioration and discoloring in the urban environment.


Application Details

  • Grants are available on a first-come, first-served basis, with applications accepted through July 1, 2024.
  • Unfortunately, due to high demand, no grants will be awarded to cover 100% of the cost of the furniture and/or fencing. 
  • Grant applications can be made in conjunction with a Business Extension Permit application. If an applicant has an approved Business Extension Permit, the applicant must submit a copy of the permit with the grant application. The Business Extension permit must be approved before a Sidewalk Cafe Furniture Grant can be awarded.
  • DLI’s Design Committee will review all grant applications for compliance with program requirements and guidelines. The Design Committee will make recommendations to the DLI executive director as to the approval or denial of the application and, if applicable, the dollar amount of the grant award.
  • Completed applications should be submitted to Trevor Benoit, downtown design and planning director. Applications can be dropped off at the DLI office or emailed to [email protected].
  • Full requirements and steps for submission are available in the Downtown Sidewalk Cafe Furniture Grant Program application.