Stories indexed with the term ‘business improvement zone’

Main Street BIZ Expansion Gets Council OK

An expansion of the geographic area of the Main Street Business Improvement Zone in downtown Ann Arbor has received approval from the city council. The business improvement zone was established in 2010 by a vote of property owners in the zone to provide a mechanism for taxing themselves to pay for items like sidewalk snow removal, sidewalk sweeping and landscaping. [For the state enabling legislation for a BIZ, see Public Act 120 of 1961]

The council’s action approving the expanded area came at its April 7, 2014 meeting, after a public hearing, during which four property owners in the proposed BIZ area – including BIZ board chair Ed Shaffran – spoke in favor of the council allowing property owners to … [Full Story]

DDA OKs $59,200 BIZ Grant for South University

A $59,200 grant to support the establishment of a business improvement zone (BIZ) for the South University area has been approved by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board. The action came at the board’s July 3, 2013 meeting. The money would be allocated only at specific milestone points.

A BIZ is a self-assessment district that can be established under Public Act 120 of 1961 by agreement of a sufficient number of property owners in the district – to generate sufficient funds to pay for additional services not provided by the city. If it’s established, the South University Area BIZ would be the second such district in downtown Ann Arbor. In 2010 such a district was established for a three-block … [Full Story]

DDA Reviews First Quarter Financials

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (Nov. 3, 2010): The DDA board passed a single resolution at Wednesday’s meeting: to reorganize its committee structure to include a communications and economic development committee.

DDA board members before their meeting began: Bob Guenzel (foreground); John Mouat (arms extended); Sandi Smith (partially obscured); Russ Collins (jacket and tie). Mouat was not demonstrating how a HAWK pedestrian signal flies. (Photos by the writer.)

But board members heard a series of reports, including a look at the financial picture from the first quarter of FY 2010. Fund balances are lower than they’ve been historically – something the board knew to anticipate with the construction of the new underground parking structure along Fifth Avenue. The report from the capital improvements committee indicated that the project is proceeding apace, with headway being made on solving a problem with de-watering the site. During public commentary, the board heard from proponents of putting a community commons on top of the underground parking garage once it’s completed.

At the meeting, the board indicated that they’d take an extended look at their 10-year budget projections at a board meeting in early 2011. Affecting the DDA’s 10-year plan are at least two major items: (1) the Fifth Avenue underground parking garage construction, and (2) ongoing negotiations with the city of Ann Arbor on the amount of “rent” to be paid by the DDA to the city as part of the parking contract under which the DDA manages the city’s parking system.

Other reports from the meeting with a potential effect on the DDA’s budget included an update on the City Apartments project planned by Village Green and located at First and Washington. The DDA is slated to purchase the parking deck component of the project on its completion – for $9 million. Included with the board’s packet were a series of proposed amendments to the parking agreement between the city of Ann Arbor, Village Green and the DDA. Village Green is scheduled to complete its purchase of the First and Washington parcel in May 2011.

Other potential impacts to the DDA’s budget included a report from the board’s partnerships committee that noted a request for grant funding from the Ann Arbor Housing Commission, plus an additional grant funding request from the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County.

The report from the board’s transportation committee included discussion of enhanced service between Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, as well as the possibility of adapting the #17 route to serve a partial circulator function for downtown. Also related to transportation, the board received a presentation from Pat Cawley, a city of Ann Arbor traffic engineer, on the installation of a new HAWK pedestrian crossing signal at the intersection of Chapin and Huron.

The board also heard from representatives of the Main Street Business Improvement Zone on the delivery of a blueprint for creating other such zones in the downtown. [Full Story]

Mixed Message from Council on Library Lot

Ann Arbor City Council meeting (Jan. 4, 2010): Ann Arbor’s city council rejected a resolution on Monday night that would have asked responders to the city’s request for proposals on the Library Lot to provide more information to the council, even if their proposals had been eliminated.

Rupundalo and Briere

Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2) explains the work of the RFP review committee for the Library Lot proposals, as Sabra Briere (Ward 1) listens. (Photos by the writer.)

At the same time, the council’s representatives to the RFP committee – Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2) and Margie Teall (Ward 4) – told their colleagues that they would bring to the committee the suggestion of re-including two already-eliminated proposals.

That idea will be floated to the committee when it next meets, on Friday, Jan. 8 at 9 a.m.

In other business, councilmembers grilled the city’s transportation program coordinator about revisions to the city’s bicycle and pedestrian ordinances to align with the Michigan Vehicle Code. Despite that, council sent the revisions on to the next step towards final approval.

The council also authorized a vote to be held among property owners to establish a business improvement zone (BIZ) on Main Street between William and Huron streets. That’s the next step in a multi-step process for establishing the BIZ, which allows property owners to levy an additional tax on themselves to use for specific services.

The council also heard a presentation on the city’s snow removal policy from Craig Hupy, who’s head of systems planning for the city. Councilmembers heard little enthusiasm from city administrator, Roger Fraser, for any deer removal program for Ann Arbor.

Fraser also announced that the city’s community services area administrator, Jayne Miller, would be leaving her city post to head up the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority, which oversees regional metroparks, sometime in the next month. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Main Street BIZ Clears Hurdle

Map of proposed BIZ district

Map of proposed BIZ area: Main Street from William Street in the south to Huron Street in the north. (Image links to complete .pdf file of the Main Street BIZ plan.)

On Wednesday, a cold and rainy evening, a group of downtown Ann Arbor property owners gathered in the city council chambers for a public meeting gaveled to order by the city clerk, Jackie Beaudry.

They were there not to discuss rain, but rather snow. At least in part.

On their agenda was consideration of a plan for a business improvement zone (BIZ) on Main Street – bounded by William Street to the south and Huron Street to the north – which would assess an extra tax on owners of property in the zone.

That plan for the BIZ includes snow removal as one of three main categories of services to be paid for through the BIZ. The other two categories of service in the plan are sidewalk cleaning and landscape plantings.

The plan was approved on a roll call vote of the property owners in attendance on Wednesday night, but not without some dissent. And the approval of the plan on Wednesday is not the final step before the BIZ can be implemented. Still ahead lies a formal public hearing by the city council, a vote by the city council, followed by another vote by property owners – this one by mail. [Full Story]

Work Session: Trains, Trash and Taxes

slide showing in red highlight the area of Main Street Ann Arbor that would be included in a business improvement zone

The proposed business improvement zone would include Ann Arbor's Main Street from William Street in the south to Huron Street in the north.

Ann Arbor City Council work session (Oct. 12, 2009): It’s a world where you can throw your newspapers, glass bottles and plastic tubs into one single recyclables cart and set it out for morning collection.

It’s a world where you can then board a bus that drops you off at the train station for your morning commute to Detroit.

It’s a world where during the work day you watch a foot of snow fall, but on your return home to Ann Arbor, you see that the snow hasn’t just been plowed on Main Street – it’s been completely removed – along with those handbills you’d noticed plastered on the lightpost.

It’s a world where later at home, you roll your empty recycling cart back to its place. Then you log on to the internet and see you’ve earned $250 worth of points tallied by the weight of the recyclables that the truck has been recording and crediting for the last year.

At its Monday night work session, Ann Arbor’s city council heard presentations on all the discrete elements of that world, which Ann Arbor could start to resemble in a couple of years. [Full Story]

In the Business Improvement Zone

Ideas generated from a recent meeting of businesses in the Main Street area

A sampling of the questions and ideas generated from a recent meeting of Main Street businesses, who gathered to discuss the concept of a Business Improvement Zone for that area. (Photo by the writer.)

About a dozen business owners, managers and others from the Main Street area gathered last Thursday morning at Conor O’Neill’s to talk about an idea being floated for that district – a self-taxing entity called a business improvement zone, or BIZ. It’s a way to pay for services – things like snow or litter removal, or flowerbeds – to make the district more attractive and bring more shoppers downtown.

This isn’t the first time we’ve encountered the Main Street BIZ. In April, the Downtown Development Authority awarded $83,270 to the group – spearheaded by Ellie Serras and Ed Shaffran – to help get it going. Since then, Main Street BIZ has hired a consultant – Betsy Jackson of The Urban Agenda – and is holding meetings with stakeholders to pitch the idea and get feedback.

That’s what was happening on Thursday. The meeting was one of three planned so far: Earlier in the week, organizers met with property owners of buildings along a three-block stretch of Main Street, where the district is proposed. And on Tuesday, June 30, they’ve scheduled a similar presentation for residents and others who patronize Main Street area businesses. That meeting starts at 6 p.m., also at Conor O’Neill’s. [Full Story]