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Expanded Fashion District BID Passes Mark for Renewal

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, January 16, 2009, at 01:58PM
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.

Despite tough economic times, the Fashion District Business Improvement District is expanding. Just today it passed the required 50% mark in petition collection, triggering the next steps in what has been a trying renewal process.

The news means that the district will add roughly a million square feet of new property, bringing its yearly assessment to $3.2 million. The BID will also be bringing back fourteen staff members who were laid off at the end of the year, when a portion of the old district lapsed.

Between phone calls from excited board members, Fashion District BID Executive Director Kent Smith said today that the renewal signals optimism on the part of property owners. "They realize that the world hasn't stopped," he said.

Faced with the prospect of failing to get renewal completed before the existing district expired, late last year the Fashion District BID opted to split its efforts. "Fashion District I," encompassing 75% of the BID area, was approved for renewal in December, while efforts continued on the remaining portion. As of December 19, petition efforts in "Fashion District II" had reached 48% approval. Around noon today, papers were delivered putting the district over 50%.

Before service in the new areas can begin, the BID must now be approved by a balloted vote and passed by City Council. Both of those elements are considered much simpler than the petition process. The BID must also assess its cash flow to determine how services begin, since the late renewal means that the assessment was not part of the tax bill delivered to property owners this year.

The news comes on one of the Fashion District's biggest weekends. Today marks the start of the Summer Market Week, one of four market weeks throughout the year that brings store buyers into the district's showrooms to determine what will be on the racks this spring.

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