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Presented to West Chester Borough Council on June 21, 2017.
By nearly every measure, 2016 was a remarkable year for West Chester Business Improvement District.
>> Between 2010 and 2016, West Chester ranked first among 969 Pennsylvania Boroughs in population growth (numeric gains) with a 7.9-percent growth rate. PA State Data Center, May 2017
>> Increase of $16,038,620 in assessed value within the BID providing an estimated $111,629 in new taxes annually to the Borough.
>> West Chester wins the Great American Main Street Award presented by the National Main Street Center. It is the first PA town in nearly 20 years to receive the honor.
>> The Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center opens with venues that provide a performance home to over ten companies. West Chester BID positioned the Borough to attract a $200,000 Anchor Building grant-to-loan from PA Dept of Community and Economic Development.
>> BID expands its capacity for social media with the hiring of Elle Steinman as Communications Specialist increasing outreach by 2.5 million.
>> Opening of two new apartment complexes at Chestnut Square and 124 Marketplace bringing the total number of new market-rate apartments in downtown to 353.
SECTION 1 | INTRODUCTION
The 2016 Annual Report is provided to the West Chester Borough Council and stakeholders of downtown West Chester pursuant to Section 9, (1) and (2), of the Pennsylvania Neighborhood Improvement District Act of 2000.
The West Chester Business Improvement District Authority (BID) was established in 2000 by the West Chester Borough Council, with the approval of downtown property and business owners, to provide community and economic development with a focus on downtown revitalization. The expertise and hands-on involvement of over 50 community volunteers that contribute a total of 1,200 hours per year has added to the success of the BID and continues to establish West Chester as a world-class shopping, dining, business, and event destination for visitors and residents.
Borough support for the West Chester BID fulfills the goal from the Comprehensive Plan (adopted November 28, 2000) to “continue to assist and financially support the West Chester Business Improvement District Authority to help promote and administer downtown commercial activity.”
Each year, an Independent Auditor’s Report is provided to the Borough and made publicly available when completed. See the full 2016 audit, performed by Maulo & Company Ltd of West Chester. Periodically, recommendations are found in the audit to ensure that fiscal “best practices” are observed. When this occurs, the BID Board and administration make immediate policy adjustments to keep fiscal activities efficient, transparent, and accountable at all levels.
SECTION 2 | CHANGES IN BENEFITED PROPERTIES
The 2016 BID Budget experienced an increase in revenues compared to previous years due to the new milage rate change to 3.00mils from 2.75mils.
Number of BID Benefited Properties in 2016 went from 267 to 265 (see summary below).
Total Assessed Value of Benefited Properties in 2016 went from $107,885,200 to $115,140,920; a gain of $7,255,720.
Total BID Assessment before mixed use adjustment in 2016 went from $296,648.30 to $345,422.76; a gain of $48,738.46.
Total BID Assessment after mixed use adjustment in 2016 went from $257,490.98 to $287,763.19; a gain of $30,272.21.
Summary of Changes in Benefited Property List
1. 0109 01500000 has been retired and is now part of 0109 01490000 (132 E Gay)
2. No new properties added to benefitted properties list.
3. Land Use Changes: 0105 03740000 201 E Gay St (“Chestnut Square”) changed from V-11 (Vacant Commercial) to R-90 (Apt. Complex).
(Chester County Assessment Office, April 6, 2016)
SECTION 3 | PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITIONS
Notice was given by the National Main Street Center in 2016 that West Chester won the Great American Main Street Award. It was formally presented to the BID May 1, 2017 in Pittsburgh. It is the first Pennsylvania town in nearly 20 years to receive the honor.
The BID continues to be Nationally Accredited by the National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, as well as having received a Keystone Main Street designation by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. Both were facilitated by the Pennsylvania Downtown Center.
The BID was among the first communities to be selected a Classic Town by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and as one of the Towns of the Philadelphia Countryside by VisitPhilly.com.
Such achievements demonstrate that the West Chester BID meets or exceeds the highest standards for a Main Street program. Both the National Accreditation and Main Street Designation provide West Chester with advantages for funding opportunities and recognitions.
SECTION 4 | HISTORIC PRESERVATION
The National Main Street Center’s guidelines for accreditation require that the organizations perform local preservation events and activities. The BID, along with its 501(c)(3) partner, the West Chester Downtown Foundation, continues to recognize Borough-wide projects that respect the historic integrity of the community.
The BID sponsored National History Day in collaboration with the Chester County Historical Society to welcome over 800 students and their families over a two-day period in March. This event provides an excellent opportunity for Middle School and High School students to engage in history while enjoying what historic Downtown West Chester has to offer.
The BID once again joined the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Pennsylvania Downtown Center in recognizing May as Preservation Month. In May 2016, the West Chester BID rolled out the first online Downtown Walking Tour. It features 16 downtown properties with descriptions that could be followed by a mobile device.
SECTION 5 | BY-THE-NUMBERS in 2016
Number of businesses opening: 37
Number of businesses closing: 19
Net increase of downtown businesses: 18
Total number of volunteer hours contributed: 1,256
Total number of community service hours: 1,809
One of the indicators of a healthy downtown is the increase in parking revenue. In 2001, net parking revenue was $360,000. For 2016, the Borough has projected a net parking revenue of $1.5-million.
In 2016, the BID created a full-time Communications Specialist position and hired Elle Steinman to aggressively market West Chester on social media. The cumulative 2016 Social Media Activity on Facebook (Downtown West Chester, PA) Twitter, and Instagram was 2,541,764; a 178-percent increase from 2015. Facebook total likes for 2016 was 11,173; an 182-percent increase from 2015.
In 2016, 219,567 users visited DowntownWestChester.com 300,641 times, or an average of 824 visitors a day. Because of an increase in social media activity, this represents a decrease of 36,000 website visits, or 12-percent, over 2015.
Conventional media continues to serve the promotional purposes of the BID. Publications include:
- Pennsylvania Vacation Magazine
- Brandywine Visitor’s Channel
- Philadelphia Visitors map
- Preservation Magazine
- Fig Magazine/Fig Industries
- County Lines Magazine
- Brandywine Visitors Guide
- The Brandywine Traveler
Through CTM of Philadelphia, 30,000 downtown brochures were distributed throughout the greater Philadelphia region.
In total, more than 3-million advertising, public relations, and social media impressions were published to a potential audience of 6-million.
SECTION 6 | PARTNERSHIPS
Leadership, expertise, and organizational development comes from more than 50 volunteers that contribute over 1,200 hours of their time to make downtown BID events and programs successful. Further, more than 1,800 community service hours are used to help keep downtown litter free. Tom Wang now manages the sidewalk clean-up program with D.G.S. Landscaping Co. managing select planters.
The Borough/BID partnership is vital to the business community. As the public sector continues to shrink, it will be the private sector that will pick up more of the investment. The objective will be to maintain a balance of leadership between elected officials, the community, and downtown stakeholders that govern the activities of the BID. The Board of Directors more than ever appreciate and depend on the support of Borough Council, clearly downtown’s most valuable partner. Without such support, the BID cannot continue to be an effective program.
As a supporting partner of the BID, the West Chester Downtown Foundation is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that promotes community interest in the vitality, culture, and livability of Downtown West Chester through education, preservation and collaboration. Programs include development of the Local Historic Preservation Awards program that recognizes outstanding achievements for historic preservation in West Chester, and organizing Up on the Roof, an annual fund-raising event that benefits the promotional and Clean & Green programs of the BID.
The goal of the BID is to create partnerships among the business and property owners to achieve long-term economic growth for business in Downtown West Chester.
SECTION 7 | THE NEW BID
In a meeting that took place Tuesday, November 17, 2015 at 6:00pm at Borough Council Chambers, the West Chester Borough Council unanimously passed an ordinance authorizing a new five-year term for the BID commencing January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2020.
It came after the 45-day period for BID property owners to object to the Final Plan ended at 5:00pm on Friday, November 6, 2015. For the first time, there were no objections filed.
That action followed a Public Hearing held September 22, 2015 at the Borough of West Chester Municipal Building, where the West Chester Borough Council voted to adopt the West Chester BID Preliminary Plan for 2016-2020 as the Final Plan.
This was the result of the request of the West Chester Business Improvement District Board of Directors to extend the West Chester Business Improvement District (BID) for a period to end on December 31, 2020. In accordance with Pennsylvania state law governing special assessment districts and found in P.I. 949 No. 130, the West Chester BID provided a Preliminary Plan of 17 goals with objectives, plus the list of all properties to be assessed, for review and comment. This new plan has an increase of 9-percent rate change from the previous BID.
With the Preliminary Plan adopted as the Final Plan, re-authorization became subject to a negative vote by persons representing ownership of 40% of the properties within the proposed district. Any objections to the Plan or re-establishment of the West Chester BID must have been filed, in writing, by benefited property owners with the Borough Manager, c/o West Chester Borough, 401 E. Gay St., West Chester, PA 19380 by close of business on Friday, November 6, 2015. For the first time, no objections were filed.
Linked below, you will find the Final Downtown West Chester Five Year Plan for 2016-2020. This plan will continue to direct downtown revitalization activities for the BID.
- West Chester BID 5 Year Plan 2016-2020 (PDF).
- Destination: Downtown West Chester (PDF) on “How the BID does it!”
SECTION 8 | FUTURE OF BID
There are four essential projects that will take the BID and the downtown to the next level for fiscal vitality and quality of life:
The new downtown information center
To increase visitorship and outreach, the West Chester BID is joining the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce to relocate to 137 North High Street. This move will enhance the ability of the BID to utilize the best practices of a Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) for attracting visitors and entrepreneurs seeking to invest in West Chester. The combined efforts will also reach beyond the hyper-local market to the more than 2-million marketable leisure travelers that visit the Brandywine Valley each year.
The E. Kahn Development Corporation is proposing a plaza development framed by a four-story structure at the corner of Gay and Church streets. It calls for retail space on the ground floor and office space on the upper levels. The existing structures were part of the County offices which relocated.
A 120-room, full-service hotel is seeking final approval for development on the the corner of Gay & Walnut Streets. West Chester BID is responsible for HotelsInWestChester.com that provides a landing page for The Brandywine Traveler staging promotion of the hotel when it opens. See Impact of Hotels in Downtown West Chester.
The BID is eager to work with the Borough to improve directional signage for wayfinding purposes for the parking garages and attractions of the Borough as identified in the Comp Plan and Master Parking Plan.
SECTION 9 | BOARD and COMMITTEES
2016 Board of Directors
Holly Brown, Chair; resident; term expires end of 2018
Sandy Riper; ViceChair; Sunset Hill Jewelers & Fine Art Gallery; term expires end of 2019
Kathleen Wileczek, Secretary; West Chester Downtown Foundation; term expires end of 2016
Christopher P. Blakely, Treasurer; Resident; term expires end of 2017
Ray Ott, Past-Chair; Ray Ott & Associates; term expires end of 2017
Jordan Norley, Borough Council Representative; term expires end of 2019
Thomas Crisp; Balance Hair Salon; term expires end of 2019
Fred Gusz; Resident; term expires end of 2016
The Honorable Michelle Kichline; Chester County Board of Commissioners; term expires end of 2019
Richard May; RKM Advisors Inc; term expires end of 2020
Lance Nelson; MacElree Harvey, Ltd; term expires end of 2016
William J. Scott, Jr, Vice-Chair; Resident, Borough Council member; term expires end of 2017
Tom Walsh; Resident; term expires end of 2018
Adam Wetzel; Side Bar & Restaurant; term expires end of 2020
Mark Yoder; Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce; term expires end of 2018
Malcolm Johnstone, CMSM; Executive Director
Elizabeth McGuire; Administrator
Elle Steinman; Communications Specialist
Tom Wang; Clean & Green
Sarah Wolfe; Bookkeeper
– – –
The West Chester BID had the following Board and committee meetings in place for 2016. All meetings occurred at the BID office, 119 N High, at 8am, and are open to the public.
Board of Directors — Holly Brown, chair
Meets 2nd Tuesday of the month; 8:00am
Advocacy Committee — Fred Gusz, chair
Meets 4th Friday of the month; 8:00 am
Customer Attraction Committee — Sandy Riper, chair
Meets 3rd Thursday of the month; 8:00 am.
Business Attraction Committee — Richard May & Tom Walsh, co-chairs
Meets 1st Tuesday of the month; 8:00 am.
Design Committee — Ray Ott, chair
Meets 1st Friday of the month; 8:00am.
– – –
Please direct questions or comments to:
Malcolm Johnstone, Executive Director
West Chester BID
119 North High St
West Chester PA 19380