Friday, October 12, 2012

News Roundup - Good ideas and a congrats in order!

Sorry for being away for so long! In the spirit of returning to regular is a roundup of recent commercial district news from around the country...enjoy!

Congrats to our friend's in Downtown Asheville, NC! Downtown Asheville gets a Business Improvement District...and it was a hard-won battle. At the public hearing a few months ago, BID advocate Joe Minicozzi dumped bags of cigarette butts that volunteers had collected in their efforts to keep the streets clean. I just love that little anecdote! The June hearing resulted in a postponement of the BID effort until Fall, which gave organizers some time to refine the proposal in response to critics. In the end, some compromises were made. Kim MacQueen, an interim board member told the local paper Mountain Xpress, "We revisited boundaries, bylaws, board makeup and services. We spent the entire summer looking at those and met at least weekly." In the end, their tenacity paid off. "Downtown Asheville Tax District Passes", Citizen Times 

Perhaps not the most attractive image, but the
cigarette butts make a compelling argument, no?
Need to incentivize major downtown investment? Define a vision and use it to leverage public funds. Hudson Square, a Business Improvement District in NYC, just unveiled it's plans for streetscape improvements within the district. This is a quintessential BID function that often gets overlooked - that of advocacy. BID's can be powerful mechanisms to advocate for much needed investment in public infrastructure - investment that would otherwise go elsewhere. The plan for Hudson Square, developed by landscape architects Matthews Nielson, outlines the BID's vision and puts a price tag - a hefty $27 million - on the proposed improvements. Were these planning funds well spent? When you consider that the plan will undoubtedly help to leverage millions of dollars of additional funding, which will ultimately make the district more appealing to visitors and investors alike - the answer is an unequivocal yes! "Hudson Square overhaul proposed", Crain's NY

Struggling for professional quality images of your downtown? Finding great photos of your district for your marketing materials and website can sometimes be a challenge - so why not sponsor a photo competition? In Port Washington, Long Island, the Business Improvement District is sponsoring just such a competition. The contest will include prizes of $1,000, $500 and $300 dollars. "BID Announces Photo Contest", Port Washington Patch

Foundations making their mark in Downtown Pittsburgh, PA. The Colcom Foundation recently committed $500,000 to help restore the historic storefronts of small Downtown buildings and recruit new retailers into them.The loans will range from $5,000 to $30,000 and the money can be used to install lighting, awnings and make other general facade improvements."Colcom Funds Grant for Downtown Retail", Pittsburgh Business Times

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