Because we believe a vibrant downtown is key to the future of our community and because we believe Downtown Partners provides irreplaceable contributions to downtown vibrancy, we urge the City Council to approve a five-year extension of the Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District, or SMID. We do not oppose what in our view is a reasonable proposed expansion of the SMID boundary this year to include additional properties on Fifth Street, Sixth Street, Virginia Street and land on the riverfront.
A final decision by the council is expected in March.
From marketing, promotion and beautification, to sponsorship of popular public events, to advice and direction for both existing business owners and hopeful entrepreneurs, Downtown Partners invests in and advocates for this important segment of our city in collective fashion. We fear much, if not all of its valuable work wouldn't get done if Downtown Partners didn't exist.
So far, 70 percent of impacted property owners have been approached by Downtown Partners about renewal. Support for renewal from those owners is more than twice the 25 percent level of support required by state law.
In our view, these numbers speak well of how downtown views Downtown Partners and the SMID.
As we said in this space when we supported the last SMID renewal five years ago, we commend Downtown Partners for a review of its mission and restructuring undertaken between 2008 and 2013. The result, in our view, were improvements in focus, communication and management of money (if an expanded SMID is approved for renewal by the council this year, we encourage Downtown Partners to remain judicious in its spending of the funds it generates).
As even casual observers of our Opinion page know, we believe in the importance of a thriving downtown. With support and optimism for the future, we again today praise our public and private sectors for commitment to and investment in downtown. Through expansion of cultural amenities, entertainment choices, and urban-living options, and creation of green spaces, today’s downtown is a dynamic place of renaissance.
Based on progress achieved in recent years and plans for the future, we believe the best days for downtown lie ahead.
And we believe expansion and renewal of the SMID will help insure downtown momentum continues.