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Fashion District BID Gets Renewed, But Not Yet Finished With the Process

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, December 19, 2008, at 12:10PM
Madison Marcus Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Models wear dresses by Madison Marcus at "Downtown at Dusk," an event that kicked off the Fashion District's Spring fashion market in October.

It's no easy task to keep happy the stakeholders of a large Business Improvement District. The Fashion District BID, second largest in Downtown, spent all of 2008 gathering property-owner support for its renewal. At times, any sort of a renewal seemed doubtful.

On Wednesday, City Council gave its final stamp of approval to a new Fashion District BID that covers approximately 75% of the existing BID's total area. A second district, intended to be seamlessly operated with the first once it gets approved, is still in the petition process.

Fashion District BID Executive Director Kent Smith today characterized the renewal process as an "ongoing saga," and said that he was glad that most of the district will not not see any disruption in services. The BID spends the bulk of its funds on its "Clean and Safe" program, which provides services like trash collection and security patrols.

The area not yet approved, known as "Fashion District Two BID," will see those services cut off on January 1, but Smith hopes the break will only be brief. In order to bring the BID to Council, Smith must gather petition signatures from property owners representing over 50% of the BID's assessment. Yesterday the count stood at 46.6%, but already this morning it was up to 48%. Smith hopes to reach 50% in time to place the item on Council's first agenda of the new year.

Smith attributes the BID's renewal problems to a change in the business climate. When the BID was first planning its renewal in 2006, property owners were requesting an expansion of services. By the time the BID had prepared its renewal plan, "the situation had dramatically changed," Smith says. That disconnect between the plan and the reality led to pushback from property owners and delays in renewal.

Complicating matters further, the Fashion District had changed significantly since the BID's last renewal process in 2003. 37% of the properties in the district had experienced a change in ownership, making it difficult to track down owners able to sign a renewal petition. A rise in commercial condos also meant that there were significantly more owners to find this time around.

While the experience was trying, Smith says he's excited about how property owners have now responded, with 88% of owners in the first BID replying in favor of renewal. They recognize that "the foundation of economic success is a clean and safe district," Smith says.

The BID renewal is good for five years, through 2014. The Fashion District BID is a complicated shape, but is roughly bounded by Broadway on the west, 7th on the north, San Pedro (north of 9th) and Stanford (south of 9th) on the east. Fashion District Two BID is an irregularly shaped area on the district's eastern edge, centered around 11th and San Pedro.


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