Private sector proposes to burnish downtown with Business Improvement DistrictThere was a need to create a BID because of competition to local businesses from other cities, malls and internet shopping
The Edmonds City Council took the first step in what may be an opportunity for downtown Edmonds businesses to help themselves – and help the city at the same time.
The council voted unanimously to pass a resolution that “initiates a proposal for a Business Improvement District within a portion of the City of Edmonds.”
A Business Improvement District (BID) is not a new idea; there are more than 1,100 of them worldwide, including at least three in Seattle.
Businesses in a district assess fees from themselves, in order to have funds to use for the common good.
Supporters of the Edmonds BID hope to use their monies for marketing, but also possible parking and beautification projects. Other BIDs in Seattle also use their funds for projects such as security, maintenance and pedestrian environment improvements.
Representing the proposed BID to the city council were Dave Arista, Pam Stuller and Ken Grant, three local business owners.
“We’re here to improve the business district in Edmonds,” Arista told the council. “We feel all businesses in Edmonds will benefit from a downtown business district.”
Arista said there was a need to create a BID because of competition to local businesses from other cities, malls and internet shopping.
“Many of those have big budgets,” he said. “Without a BID, we have no budget.
“And that budget is sustainable; we know what is coming in. So we could set funding for marketing, parking and beautification.”
The businesses are not asking for any money from the city, but rather would be self-funded by assessments based on their square footage.
And it was the businesses themselves that came up with the idea.
“Things like this need to originate with the businesses,” Arista said. “And over 60 percent of the businesses want to participate.
“Businesses are in business to make money. We feel it will help them to be in a BID. And when the businesses make more money, that also helps the city.
“It’s a win-win-win for business, citizens and the city.”
The businesses would be assessed depending on their type of business and square footage.
Businesses that run by appointments, such as a lawyer or accountant, would be charged between $120 and $360 per year depending on the size of their business.
Open door businesses, with customers coming in at their will, would pay more, from $360 to $600 per year.
“Our budget will be between $60,000 and $90,000 per year,” Pam Stuller said. “The city will collect assessments from the businesses, and the City Council makes sure the funds are spent within the scope of the BID guidelines.”
She also noted the council could change the boundaries of the BID, which is currently set up within the downtown waterfront activity area that includes the highest concentration of businesses.
Ken Grant wanted to make sure the council knew just what – and what not – the BID is.
“It’s a joint partnership with the city,” he said. “We’re all in this together, all businesses with one voice.
“We all have the same goal in mind, which is making Edmonds better.”
And he wanted to stop a rumor he had heard.
“It’s not about building an Edmonds none of us can stand,” he said. “It’s not about adding extra stories to buildings.”
“What’s the reason I come to Edmonds? What’s the draw?” he asked. “What keeps my money and my tax revenue here?”
The council voted unanimously to pass the resolution, moving the proposal for a BID forward.
Next step will be a public hearing and more discussion on the issue, probably next January.