West Broadway Improvement District could pay for litter pick up

Passersby noticed the difference this summer when crews picked up litter on West Broadway once a week. Come 2015, if the West Broadway Improvement District (WBID) is approved, litter will be picked up twice weekly.

Other services (though not snow removal) and some new amenities would be included in the first year’s $135,440 budget paid for by property owners agreeing to assess themselves approximately $10 per lineal front foot per year, noted as “subject to verification.” The area affected: Broadway from 26th Avenue N. to West River Road, and along Washington 17th to 21st avenues N.

The West Broadway Improvement District (WBID)’s mission is to create and promote a cleaner, greener, and safer West Broadway Business District, said Erin Heelan of West Broadway Business and Area Coalition (WBC).

Dr. Tara Watson, who owns her buiding and multiple businesses including the Anytime Fitness franchise said, “This is a united front for businesses to work together. This service district unifies us in another way, making our voice stronger showing others we care about what goes on outside our business as well.”

The assessment, which amounts to about $400 per year for a 40-foot-wide building, only applies to business properties. Residential and non-profit property owners may opt in, and if enough of them do, the assessment rate could drop.

The first year’s budget forecasts $105,000 in revenue, supplemented by $15,440 in kind and $15,000 gifted by WBC to the WBID toward the hard costs of banners and brackets.

The expenses are $45,000 for litter pickup, removing graffiti on streetscape amenities, removing weeds along sidewalks monthly as needed, and emptying trash receptacles as needed.

To purchase banners and brackets for 180 light poles and holiday decorations for half of them would cost an additional $60,000. As the banners would likely be made of aluminum, said Carla Schleicher, communications and design associate for WBC, they should hold up well. Money assessed in future years then could be spent for other eligible services or amenities.

In the City of Minneapolis, there are 16 self-managed Special Service Districts, according to WBC literature. “Services and amenities can vary greatly per district and can include: banners, holiday decorations, streetscape greenery, sidewalk and street cleaning, snow removal and marketing.”

Why do this? WBC staff discovered, through a University of Minnesota research assistant’s project, that there was interest and that a BID district could assist in revitalizing the corridor.

“BIDs have been operating in the United States for over 30 years. They have consistently shown a proven impact on tenancy and property values of the neighborhoods in which they operate. Neighborhoods with BIDs are better able to maintain property values during economic downturns because prioritized commercial corridor services and programming are continuously provided by the BID,” according to a detailed proposed business plan.

Property owners were recently mailed a 5-page proposed operating plan with the budget, and the longer business plan document that set out various management and accounting/accountability practices. Property owners had an opportunity Feb. 21 and will have another opportunity Feb. 26 from 8:30-10:30 a.m. at US Bank, 1030 West Broadway Avenue, to turn in the petition that accompanied the explanation. (Front photo, Ravi Singh of US Bank and Carla Schleicher.)

Petitions may also be turned in individually through Erin Heelan at WBC, email erin [at] westbroadway [dot] org or phone 612-353-5178. There will be a Business Committee Social Hour at the Lowry Café Thursday, Feb. 27 from 4:30-6:30 p.m., another opportunity to ask questions, sign, or voice opposition.

WBC has been doing outreach about the possibility of implementing a district for two years, including mailed surveys and informational meetings. Schleicher said she had canvassed the entire corridor. Heelan said she has reached out personally to property owners big and small, and said most have been excited about what the BID will do.

If enough petitions are returned, 25 percent based on percent of land area and budget, by April 1, the matter will go to a City of Minneapolis public hearing in April or May. “Following city council action, each property owner is mailed another notice informing them of their right to file an objection within 45 days.

Assuming an insufficient number of property owners file an objection, the City forwards the service charge assessment information to Hennepin Counthy and the service charges are included in the following year’s tax statement,” the 2015 Operating Plan states.

The annual budget meeting for the district would happen July 10, 2014 from 8:30-10:00 a.m. at Cub Foods, 701 West Broadway Ave. The public hearing to approve operating plans would be Tuesday, Sept. 9 and service would begin in January 2015.

In agreeing to serve as the board overseeing the district (meeting every other month as the district board), the WBC Board has committed to continue being comprised of at least three-fifths assessed property owners or their proxies participating in the assessment. This is required by the City of Minneapolis, which authorizes the tax collection. There will also be an official BID committee to advise on operations and budgets, which must be set annually.

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    Margo Ashmore's picture
    Margo Ashmore

    Margo Ashmore is the editor of NorthNews.