West Chester BID 2015 Annual Report
Presented to West Chester Borough Council on May 17, 2016.
SECTION 1 | INTRODUCTION
The 2015 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. The full 2015 audit, performed by Maulo & Company Ltd of West Chester, can be reviewed from DowntownWestChester.com/about. Periodically, recommendations are found in the audit to ensure that fiscal "best practices" are observed. When that 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 2015 BID Budget experienced a very small increase compared to previous years as there were little or no added value due to permitted improvements to assessable properties.
Number of BID Benefited Properties in 2015 went from 270 to 267 due to consolidation of properties (see summary below)
Total Assessed Value of Benefited Properties in 2015 went from $107,483,840 to $107,885,200; a gain of $401,360.
Total BID Assessment before mixed use adjustment in 2015 went from $295,580.56 to $296,684.30; a gain of $1,103.74.
Total BID Assessment after mixed use adjustment in 2015 went from $257,305.22 to $257,490.98; a gain of $185.76.
Summary of Changes in Benefited Property List
1. Removed from Benefited Property List:
0109 01120000 (33 W Market St) – consolidated into 0109 01140000 33-37 W Market St
0109 01130000 (35 W Market St) – consolidated into 0109 01140000 33-37 W Market St
0109 01670010 (07 N Walnut St) – consolidated into 0109 001680000 9 N Walnut St
2. Added to Benefited Property List: No Properties added.
3. Land Use Changes
0109 00420000 (31 W Gay St) changed from C-10 to C-30
0109 02670000 (10-12 W Market) changed from C-60 to C-30
Neither of these changed the property’s benefitted property status.
SECTION 3 | PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITIONS
Once again, the BID was National Accredited by the National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, as well as receiving Keystone Designation by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. Both were facilitated by the Pennsylvania Downtown Center. The BID was 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 2015, the West Chester BID rolled out a series of articles found at WC History, each of which was released on a weekday in May. Most were articles, some were book excerpts, and a few were by guest authors. All feature some aspect of West Chester’s 300-year-old history. It is meant to be an on-line index of West Chester historical articles.
In June, BID partnered with County Lines Magazine to produce Historic West Chester, Then & Now, a 7-page insert in the June edition with overprints that was used to provide an overview of the historic culture of West Chester.
SECTION 5 | BY-THE-NUMBERS in 2015
Number of businesses opening: 24
Number of businesses closing: 6
Net increase of downtown businesses: 18
Total value of private investment, new construction: $13,000,000
Total value of assessable commercial property within the BID: $257,490.98
On June 30, the Facade Improvement Program was fulfilled. It was a $50,000 pass-through grant program provided by the PA Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED). Under the management of the BID, it provided capital improvement funding of between $220 and $5,000 (the maximum allowed) for 26 projects totaling a value of $190,088.37.
Ten properties changed ownership in 2015. The increase in market value could be measured in eight of the transactions at 7-percent annually overall.
Total number of volunteer hours contributed: 770
Total number of community service hours: 1,738
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 $1.6-million.
In 2015, the BID aggressively marketed West Chester as a destination by placing ads in more than 25 print, broadcast, and websites, including:
- Pennsylvania Vacation Magazine
- Brandywine Visitor's Channel
- Philadelphia Visitors map
- Fig Magazine/Fig Industries
Through CTM of Philadelphia, 30,000 downtown brochures were distributed throughout the greater Philadelphia region to increase traffic at DowntownWestChester.com from its 2014 level of 500 visits a day.
In total, more than 4-million advertising and public relation impressions were published to a potential audience of 8-million. It is the most aggressive marketing plan to date for the BID.
In 2015, 236,000 users visited DowntownWestChester.com 336,000 times, a 17-percent increase over 2014 or 921 visitors a day.
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.
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.
SECTION 8 | FUTURE OF BID
There are six essential projects that must be supported by the BID to advance the fiscal vitality and quality of life for West Chester:
The Brandywine Traveler
To increase revenues through visitorship, the West Chester BID has initiated a Regional Stakeholder Network that is utilizes the best practices of a Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) for attracting visitors. The initiative creates cross-promotional partnerships that provide a collective impact, all adding to the regular marketing activities of the West Chester BID. Called The Brandywine Traveler, it reaches beyond the hyper-local market to the more than 2-million marketable leisure travelers that visit the Brandywine Valley each year.
The Uptown! Entertainment Alliance has launched a capital campaign for a $3.75-million redevelopment of the old Armory (Washington and High Streets) into a theater. The BID has positioned West Chester as a Designated and Accredited community providing a higher level of access to available funds including a $500,000 Anchor Building Grant-to-Loan which has been applied for this project and will eventually roll into a continuous revolving loan funds for the Borough.
Upscale Boutique Hotel
The Myles Development Company is in the process of converting the historic Farmers & Mechanics Building, 2 West Market Street, into a 40-room boutique hotel. 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.
Located at Gay & Matlack Streets, Chestnut Square will be offering 205 residential units. Construction is underway with completion anticipated in summer, 2016. A landing page is being developed to not only promote this new development but also provide downtown information to the residents.
Historic Post Office
The US Postal Service is in the process of divesting the existing Post Office at 101 East Gay Street while retaining the postal services at the current location. The BID supports the eventual use to be the home of the West Chester Food Co-op.
A 120-room, full-service hotel has been approved for 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.
SECTION 9 | BOARD and COMMITTEES
2015 Board of Directors
Holly Brown, Chair; resident; term expires end of 2018
William J. Scott, Jr, Vice-Chair; Resident, Borough Council member; term expires end of 2017
Christopher P. Blakely, Treasurer; Resident; term expires end of 2017
Kathleen Wileczek, Secretary; West Chester Downtown Foundation; term expires end of 2016
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
Sandy Riper; Sunset Hill Jewelers & Fine Art Gallery; term expires end of 2019
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; Executive Director
Elizabeth McGuire; Administrator
Daniel Price; Consultant
Sarah Wolfe; Bookkeeper
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The West Chester BID had the following Board and committee meetings in place for 2015. 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 -- Cyndi Meadows, 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.
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Please direct questions or comments to:
Malcolm Johnstone, Executive Director
West Chester BID
119 North High St
West Chester PA 19380