City manager advises against Business Improvement District in Alexandria

WASHINGTON — Alexandria’s City Manager Mark B. Jinks has recommended that the city council no longer consider a proposed Business Improvement District in Old Town.

In a memorandum to the council, Jinks said his decision was based on feedback from members of the Business Improvement’s Districts Exploratory Committee who concluded that they could not contribute the additional time and energy needed to get enough support for the proposal.

“With active leadership for a BID (Business Improvement District) no longer evident, I do not believe we have this critical component for the successful creation of a BID and do not recommend a BID be pursued at this time,” Jinks said.

A business improvement district is an area where a nonprofit economic development organization brings additional services to supplement those provided by a local government. They usually focus on promoting commercial neighborhoods through a series of improvements, such as branding and marketing and utilizing public space to hold events.

Most of the revenue would come from an add-on real estate tax paid by commercial property owners in the district, which the Alexandria Times reported was highly contested by business owners.

In June, the Alexandria City Council had asked for a specific plan and budget along with a formal vote by business and commercial property owners.

While Jinks did not recommend creating one now, he did not completely rule out creating one in the future.

“Successful BIDs almost always orginiate from the business community itself,” Jinks said in his memo to the city council. “I continue to believe an Old Town BID would have a positive impact on business, property owners and the residents of both Old Town and Alexandria at large, but now is not the time.”

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