The Asheville Downtown Association supports the implementation of a Business Improvement District (BID) for Downtown Asheville. A BID will make downtown cleaner and safer — two top areas of concern for downtown business owners and residents.
In less than three blocks, an ADA volunteer recently picked up a gallon-size bag of cigarette butts. With the central business district occupying approximately 80 blocks, thatʼs nearly 30 gallons of cigarette butts littering our city streets and sidewalks every day. A BID will provide for increased litter pickup, sidewalk cleaning, graffiti removal and snow removal from sidewalks.
A BID will make downtown safer. An ambassador team can keep watch for potentially unsafe situations, assist visitors with way finding and provide parking information.
Other important BID points:
• A BID will provide a central management system for downtown, ensuring communication between business and property owners, city council and staff, and county commission and staff.
• A study commissioned by the Downtown Commission and Asheville Downtown Association projects a 2 percent increase in property values and a 5 percent increase in retail sales beyond what the market would offer in the BIDʼs first year.
• BID tax assessments only provide for services within the central business district, unlike other taxes, which are collected from downtown and dispersed regionally.
• The Asheville BID proposal includes a sunset clause of three years. At the time of renewal, property owners will evaluate the success of the BID and decide whether to continue funding or not. However, BIDs have been operating for decades and have a 99 percent renewal rate.
In the 1980s and ‘90s, this clean and safe work was supported by the city through the Downtown Development Office. However, as political winds shifted, the office was deactivated, with no sustainable model for continuing to maintain the level of service. Many have asked why the city cannot enhance services to the central business district. The short answer is that it cannot afford to without raising property taxes on all citizens. Over the years, since the Downtown Development Office was disbanded, the ADA and its volunteers have attempted to bridge the gap in services, but without support from property owners or the city, it became impossible to sustain. Since that time, traffic (from visitors, residents and employees) throughout downtown has grown exponentially, putting an even greater strain on baseline services.
Business Improvement Districts are not a new idea and are not a “one size fits all” proposition. BIDs have been successful in many communities with similarities to Asheville including Portland, Ore.; Madison, Wis.; Boulder, Colo.; and Bozeman, Mont. Ashevilleʼs BID will be representative of what Downtown Asheville needs, as identified by residents and business/property owners. More than 50 BID communities are in place in North Carolina with nearly 1,000 nationwide.
Itʼs vital to note that a BID will not homogenize or sanitize downtown. We all know that Ashevilleʼs diversity, uniqueness, and most importantly, our mix of locally owned shops, restaurants and businesses have made downtown what it is today. While itʼs true that downtown Asheville is a revitalized, booming area of the city, that doesnʼt mean that we donʼt have room to improve upon our regionʼs greatest asset. The bottom line is that a cleaner, safer and more efficiently managed downtown benefits all who use it — business/property owners, employees, residents and visitors.
This year marks the ADAʼs 25th year serving the downtown community. With this historical perspective, the ADA is in full support of a BID because we know it will work for our downtown and accomplish the goals that have been outlined in the Downtown Master Plan.
With less than one week until City Council considers a BID for Downtown Asheville on June 12, hereʼs how you can get more information or get involved:
• Get the facts at www.ashevilledowntown.org/BID.html.
• Ask us questions! Email us at AshevilleBID@gmail.com.
• Write to City Council at AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov.
• Attend the public hearing at the Tuesday, June 12, City Council meeting.