For Immediate Release: May 19, 2017
At two upcoming public meetings, the Alexandria City Council will consider a proposal to create an Old Town Business Improvement District (BID).
A BID is an area of a locality where a nonprofit economic development organization delivers additional services to supplement those provided by local government. BIDs usually focus on promoting commercial neighborhoods through branding, signage, and marketing; activating public spaces and holding events; enhancing streetscapes and transportation amenities; and making other improvements. Most revenue for BID services comes from an add-on real estate tax paid by commercial property owners in the district, in addition to sources such as grants and events.
Exploration of a BID was recommended by the City’s 2009 King Street Retail Study, 2015 Waterfront Commission governance subcommittee, and 2016 MGM Task Force; and the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Legislative Agenda also calls for consideration of a BID. Representatives of these groups joined together to form the Old Town BID Exploratory Committee, with staff support from the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership (AEDP).
The Exploratory Committee has developed a proposal to establish a district along King Street from the Metro station to the Waterfront, generally bounded by Cameron Street on the north and Duke Street on the south. The district would also include the Washington Street corridor from Wythe Street to Green Street, and the Union Street corridor from Pendleton Street to Wolfe Street. The proposed district would only include commercial properties; residential and tax-exempt property owners (such as churches) would not pay an add-on tax.
The proposed BID would be governed by a board of directors elected by commercial property owners and tenants in the district. The board would hire an executive director and other staff, and submit an annual work plan and budget to the City. City Council would reserve the sole authority to create or change an add-on tax, which is proposed by the Exploratory Committee to be up to 10 cents per $100 of assessed property value under the current proposal. For the median commercial property in the district, 10 cents would equate to about $1,080 per year.
On Tuesday, June 6, at 7 p.m., City Council will hold a public work session at the Dr. Oswald Durant Arts Center (1605 Cameron St.) to hear a presentation and discuss the Old Town BID proposal. While the meeting will not include a public comment period, City Council will hear from panels consisting of both BID proponents and those with concerns or opposed to a BID. The proposed BID ordinance is scheduled to have its first reading during the City Council meeting that begins at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 13. City Council would then hold a public hearing and could take action as part of the meeting that begins at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 24. The meetings on June 13 and June 24 will take place in the Council Chamber in City Hall (301 King St.).
If City Council adopts the BID ordinance, the district would be established as of January 1, 2018, and an initial board of directors would be formed to hold elections for a permanent board that would develop a work plan and budget. No add-on tax could be established by City Council until the May 2018 budget adoption, with the first BID tax payment due in June 2018. The BID ordinance would have an initial sunset of December 31, 2022.
For details about the Old Town BID proposal, including the proposed ordinance for adoption by City Council, visit www.oldtownbid.com.