City drops bid for business improvement district

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By Alexa Epitropoulos | aepitropoulos@alextimes.com

City Manager Mark Jinks announced Tuesday night during a city council legislative meeting that Alexandria is dropping its attempt to create a business improvement district in Old Town.

A BID exploratory committee had spent more than a year meeting and developing plans for an improvement district in Alexandria’s Old and Historic District. However, the initiative was met with fierce opposition from small businesses within the proposed district area, who denounced the proposal’s additional property tax.

Council decided in June to require a vote of business owners, with a majority needed for the initiative to move forward. Council members estimated at that meeting that calls and emails ran three to one against a BID. On Tuesday, Jinks cited the Old Town BID exploratory committee’s decision that they couldn’t devote the needed time and effort to develop a new BID plan, as well as overall lack of support from businesses that would fall within the proposed district, as the reason for dropping the initiative.

“Successful BIDs almost always originate from the business community itself,” Jinks said at the meeting. “While government can be supportive of a BID, it is not appropriate for a government to lead a BID effort. With active leadership for a BID 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 further pursued at this time. I continue to believe an Old Town BID would have a positive impact on businesses, property owners and the residents of both Old Town and Alexandria at large, but now is not the time.”