Wednesday, December 10, 2014

SWBID is Almost Ready

The process of creating a Business Improvement District (BID) for Southwest has been a long one, but one of the final steps will be taken today. A public hearing is scheduled with the Department of Small & Local Business Development (DSLBD) at the Wilson Building downtown. If the DSLBD determines that the SWBID should be created, it will make a recommendation to the Office of the Mayor, who will register the BID. The DC Council approved legislation over the summer to amend the BID Act to create SWBID and DSLBD approval is the other component needed for the BID to be formed. A representative from ANC 6D will testify at the hearing to express the commissioners’ unanimous support for the creation of SWBID. 

SWBID covers a wide area of Southwest, from south of the National Mall to M Street and from 15th Street to South Capitol Street. Excluded from the SWBID is the Portals complex, which resisted joining since several of the functions of a BID are already done by the property owners. There are three main areas of Southwest included in the BID and each has distinct needs. Along 4th Street near the Waterfront Metro, the BID will work to promote the street as the ‘Main Street’ of Southwest and attract retailers to vacant spaces along the corridor. In addition, the underpasses beneath I-395 will receive more attention and the BID will identify how to implement components of the SW Neighborhood Plan. Meanwhile, the BID will work on branding of The Wharf and improve transportation access to the area. Along 10th Street in Federal Triangle South, activation of the street is needed. At 7th Street and Maryland Avenue near L’Enfant Plaza, the BID will bring in playful street furniture to activate the area for office workers during lunch hour when food trucks visit. 

A taskforce comprised of PN Hoffman, Clark Enterprises, City Partners, and Forest City helped bring the BID to fruition. Other advisory members include GSA, SWNA, and ANC 6D, among others. A Board of Directors will be elected next year with somewhere between 10 and 15 members. While GSA cannot formally become a member of SWBID, the Federal agency has 13 buildings within the BID boundaries and will contract services for those properties. This arrangement is similar to what has been done in the Downtown DC BID. 

In order to fund the BID, there will be four classes of membership, each with their own set of fees: commercial property, industrial or unimproved land, hotels, and residential. The residential class includes rental apartment buildings with 10 units or more and the BID fee will be sent to the owners of the buildings. Condominiums, co-ops, town homes, public housing, and apartment buildings with less than 10 units are exempt, but will have the opportunity to opt-in if they want. It is anticipated that SWBID will send out the first bills in early 2015 and operations will begin in the spring; the BID is already looking for office space in the area. SWBID will be fully operational by next fall. 

Map courtesy of SWBID

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