Public Improvement District to add to downtown revitalization movement

City Council kicked off a new project to help revitalize the area with its approval of a public improvement district in its meeting Oct. 13.

Starting in January 2015, the district will collect $0.15 per $100 of a property owner's taxable value based on 2014 assessment values that will fund a variety of improvement projects to bring crowds downtown to shop and dine. Those affected involve properties only within the district, which covers an area between Municipal Avenue and H Avenue and between 14th and 16th streets.

Deputy City Manager Frank Turner said the PID has been in discussion for several years, but was pushed behind other city priorities. Within the last

several months, city staff met with downtown property owners to regroup before bringing forward a petition to council members to organize the PID.

State law requires 50 percent of property owners to be in favor of the PID initiative, and 66.7 percent of Plano's downtown property owners voted in support. Turner said the district allows business owners to collaborate and supply more resources to accomplish a united vision.

"In the case of downtown Plano, the people who are running the shop own the shop," he said. "They know their next-door neighbor; they know who's working down the street. But [the PID] further binds them together to define their common interests and to carry [those interests] out."

The project has a three-year term, and city staff project the PID will generate $137, 943 in its first year, $170,906 in the second year and $188,859 in the third year. This revenue will be budgeted for improvements that attract people to downtown and its local merchants. Options include marketing, beautification projects, events, valet parking or increased security.

Aaron Allred is a new property owner in downtown, and even though he said his law firm will not benefit from direct foot traffic, he is in favor of the PID.

"The downtown area is something that [my partners and I] made a bet on, and we want to see it continue to grow and thrive," Allred said.

Initiatives like the tax increment fund aid the downtown revitalization effort, but Turner said that revenue is used for construction or repair projects, which the PID does not address. Provisions for the PID allow for an advisory board comprised of each property owner within the district, and of that group, an executive advisory board will oversee management of the budget and expenditures. This is comprised of the three largest property owners—by value—who choose five other members to join the executive advisory board.

Bonnie Shea, who owns Urban Rio, Urban Crust and the Ice House in downtown with her husband Nathan Shea, said that momentum is rising in downtown Plano and that the [public improvement] district is something that will take the city to the next level.

"It will provide stability to a budget that we can count on, that we can create a vision from," Shea said. "In my mind, this is like a homeowners association for business property. I think this PID will get us to a point where we can have structure, and we can operate it like a business."

After the term expires, property owners can petition again to have the PID extended.



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