Southwest Detroit secures state's first Business Improvement District

The West Vernor commercial corridor has gone from bust to boom in the last decade. Part of the reason is that the Southwest Detroit Business Association has been operating a voluntary Business Improvement District there for the past seven years. Last week a vote of property owners formalized that BID, which sets a historic precedent in Michigan.

BIDs have been used to great effect in urban areas around the country. Assessments they generate can only be used in the designated area, which means services can be specifically targeted to the needs and personality of the district. The Southwest Detroit BID includes properties fronting W. Vernor from Clark to Woodmere and those along Springwells from W. Vernor to I-75.

Securing the BID was a four-step process. First, SDBA petitioned property owners to gauge their interest. Then, a zone plan was developed based on surveys that spoke to priorities. "Clean and safe were the most important priorities," says Amy Raupp, the organization's neighborhood development specialist. Marketing and capital improvements also ranked high on the list.

After City Council approved the creation of the BID, a vote was taken. Ballots were mailed to the owners of 371 parcels of land. Of the 183 votes received, 66 percent voted to approve the property assessment. The votes were weighted according to assessed value.

Raupp is excited about the impact the BID will have on the West Vernor/Springwells area. "This is all about the future of Southwest Detroit," she says. "This is about bringing in more investment and protecting the investments that people have already made."

The proposed 2% assessment would bring in $290,000.

Read more about BIDs here.

Source: Amy Raupp, SDBA
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

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