BID In Review 2000 to 2005
See the 2006 Annual Report in PDF format at 2006 Annual Report.
The West Chester Business Improvement District was created by the property owners in 2000 to perform a number of activities that would lower the commercial vacancy rate, create more commerce, add value to commercial property, and position downtown West Chester as a destination utilizing the Main Street Approach.
A major goal of the BID was to increase property market values. The average market value has increased from $41.12 per square foot in 1999 to $138.51 in 2005 (to date). Comparatively, a sampling of commercial properties outside the BID averaged $89 per square foot for 2004.
Since 2001, 335 buildings within the BID have had improvements valued at $14.7 million.
Since 2001, the BID has provided business start-up or expansion information to 312 prospects. Number of eateries have expanded from 19 in 2000 to 47 in 2005. Number of retail shops have expanded to 84 from 57 in 2000. Total vacancy rate averages four percent for retail and office space.
The Downtown Gift Certificate program was inaugurated in 2003. More than $20,000 worth have been sold. It's considered by the downtown merchants to be "better than cash because it can only be spent in downtown."
The BID launched a new downtown internet portal site (DowntownWestChester.com) that is able to list all 420 businesses, provide each with a web page and calendar listing, and conduct direct management with daily updates. The site activity has expanded to an anticipated 80,000 unique users for 2005. A marketing e-mail bulletin mailing list has expanded to 1,691 individuals.
Since 2001, 53 books, periodicals, radio and TV media ran positive features on downtown West Chester for a total of 432 articles. Coupled with the continued distribution of the BID's marketing brochures and using a multiplier of 2.5, over 12 million positive media exposures of downtown West Chester were made.
The West Chester Wayfinding project was completed that brought 127 signs and banners to West Chester to provide directional signage and banners that provide a sense of place and arrival.
In 2003, Downtown West Chester was recognized by Philadelphia Magazine as "Best New Shopping District."
In 2004, The BID was recognized as an Achiever Program by the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development. This level demonstrates successful and sustainable adherence to the Main Street Approach and has been designated to only eleven other communities in Pennsylvania.
74 communities throughout the United States have contacted the West Chester BID for information and technical assistance.
Swingin' Summer Thursdays, a community festival that occurs four times a year, was recognized by the Pennsylvania Parks & Recreation Association as 'Best Family Event of the Year for 2003.'
'Flagship' publications for the BID include:
>> DowntownWestChester.com/100,000 unique users per year
>> Perfect Town Brochure/70,000 distributed per year
>> West Chester Shopping & Dining Guide/20,000 distributed per year
>> Guide to Doing Business in West Chester/400 distributed per year
>> Weekends in West Chester (Magazine)/40,000 distributed per quarter