A group of business and property owners are collaborating to implement a $375,000 business improvement district in the Roosevelt Row/Evans Churchill area of downtown Phoenix by next year.
According to the business improvement plan newsletter, a Business Improvement District is a plan that allows property owners to gather resources and provide services beyond those provided by government to improve their district through a self-imposed and self-governed property assessment. More than 1,500 BIDs with a renewal rate of 95 percent have been formed in North America.
Nancy Hormann, owner of Hormann & Associates, has led the plan’s development since June 2014 when the City of Phoenix approved a contract with Downtown Phoenix Inc. to create the BID. Hormann has helped create 17 districts including those in California, Texas and Arizona.
“Out of those districts that I have formed, some of them over 20 years ago, all are still in existence and are still very successful,” Hormann said in a phone interview. “It’s been a proven commodity. It really has helped boost the vitality of the districts and creates that colorful clout… so that the area speaks with one voice instead of fragmented voices.”
According to Hormann, a final plan should be done within a week and questionnaires will be sent out to property owners asking if they support the district. In order to get the city council’s approval, support is needed from property owners representing 51 percent of the assessments to be paid. If enough support is granted the plan will go to council in September, and money would be available in February or March 2016 to start the district.
In the earlier stages of the plan’s development Hormann said focus groups and surveys were conducted to gather ideas, and a working group comprised of community representatives and property owners worked to develop them.
Hormann said the community had an advantage in developing the plan because the area was “already viewed in a great light.”
“The Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation has done fabulous things for the Roosevelt Row area,” Hormann said. “They’re a wonderful, a great success, but they’re all volunteers, and they don’t have a consistent source of income. This is taking it out of the volunteer realm and putting it into the professional realm. “
Wathsna Sayasane, the project manager of community and economic development for the City of Phoenix, serves on the BID working group to provide assistance from the city and would lead the approval process through city council if the plan is supported.
“What the community wanted was to get to that next level in their efforts regarding marketing, branding, holding special events and trying to create more cohesion within some of the downtown groups,” she said. “I think it can add more security in the community’s stability and sustainability for future years.”
Patrick Panetta, the director of project management of university real estate development at Arizona State University, served on the working group as a representative of the ASU downtown Phoenix campus.
“I think it will help define the relationship between the district and the business owners in the district and the campus,” Panetta said. “One of the benefits is the coordination and organization of certain events, their impacts in the area and a more concerted public outreach effort…I think how parking in the area gets managed may be a topic that this new district board could address and help improve.”
Hormann said she is confident most property owners will support the BID, however “you can’t please everybody.”
“I think there are a couple property owners that are concerned about what benefits it’s actually going to provide because they’re essentially going to be assessing themselves an enhanced fee to provide these services,” Panetta said. “There are some that don’t believe it’s worth it, but a majority of property owners who have been involved in the outreach believe this should be a good thing for the area.”
“We’ve had great feedback from a lot of the people,” Hormann said. “There are a lot of great people who are working towards this. It’s a great community effort.”