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West Chester BID 2018 Annual Report

West Chester BIDPresented to West Chester Borough Council on August 20, 2019.

HIGHLIGHTS
In 2018, West Chester continued to see a record number of businesses downtown, reduced crime, and a robust social media outreach.

>> On June 3-6, West Chester hosted the 2018 Pennsylvania Downtown Center Annual Statewide Downtown Revitalization Conference for the first time.

>> BID expanded its social media outreach to 2,657,818.

>> The E. Kahn Development Corporation began constructing downtown's most dynamic development called 44 WEST, a downtown plaza development at Church & Gay.

>> Denise Polk and Meghan Fogarty were recognized by the Pennsylvania Downtown Center for their efforts at Community Greening at their annual gala awards banquet on June 5 in West Chester.

>> With the support of the BID, the Borough was able to attract a $200,000 Grant-to-Loan from the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development for the Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center.

SECTION 1 | INTRODUCTION
The 2018 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 BID fulfills the goal from the West Chester 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 2018 audit, performed by Maulo & Company Ltd of West Chester, may be found at DowntownWestChester.com under About the BID. 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 2018 BID Budget received a majority of its income from an assessment of 3.00mils on the commercial components of properties within the Business Improvement District.

SUMMARY (from Chester County Assessment Office, April 6, 2018)
• Total Assessed Value of Benefited Properties in 2018 went from $131,096,410 to $130,964,840; a reduction of $131,570 due to construction re-assessments.
• Total BID Assessment before mixed use adjustment in 2018 went from $393,289.23 to $392,894.52; a reduction of $394.71.
• Total BID Assessment after mixed use adjustment in 2018 went from $309,700.27 to $309,316.44; a reduction of $383.83.

Number of BID Benefited Properties in 2018 went from 264 to 262.

Summary of Changes in Benefited Property List:
1. Parcels 0109 00090000 (155 W Gay) and 0109 00110000 (149 W Gay) are retired. They are now combined into existing parcel 0109 00100000 (151-153 W Gay). This parcel now includes Star of India (155) and Saloon 151 (151 and 149).
2. Parcel 0109 01540000 (139-41 E Market parking lot) is now retired. It is now an exempt property 0109 0154000E (Safe Harbor).
3. Formerly exempt Parcel 0109 0251000E (27 S Church St) is now a new taxable parcel 0109 02510000.

The above listed three property changes resulted in a net BID Assessment reduction of less than $10.

4. Assessed value of Parcel 0108 04360000 (220 W Gay) is reduced by $126,010.00 from 2017, which reduced its BID Assessment payment by $378.03. This accounts for most of the BID Assessment reduction since 2017.
5. There were no Land Use Code changes on non-exempt properties.

List of Ownership changes, Assessed Value changes, and Commercial Square Footage changes are available on request.

SECTION 3 | PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITIONS
Denise Polk, a professor at West Chester University and a member of West Chester Borough Council, partnered with Meghan Fogarty, the Sustainability Coordinator for West Chester, to create a local program to make our community more sustainable. The project succeeded by diverting 360 tons of food scraps from the landfill to composting bins. In addition, viable leftover food was sent to people in need. As a result, Denise and Meghan were recognized by the Pennsylvania Downtown Center for their efforts at Community Greening at their annual gala awards banquet on June 5 in West Chester.

The BID continued to be Nationally Accredited by the National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The BID continued to be designated as a Keystone Main Street Program by the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development.

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 2018, the West Chester BID rolled out an updated version of an 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 2018

EXPANDED VALUE
Number of businesses opening: 58 in 2018 vs 44 in 2017

Number of businesses closing: 32 in 2018 vs 14 in 2017

Net increase of downtown businesses: 26 in 2018 vs 30 in 2017

PEOPLE INVESTMENT
Total number of volunteer hours contributed: 1,213

Total number of community service hours: 1,348

2018 BID SOCIAL MEDIA REPORT
By Elle Steinman | Communications Specialist | January 2019

Total Social Media Reach: 2,657,818

  • Facebook Reach: 2,429,286 - 15% decrease from 2017
  • Downtown West Chester: 2,344,672; Brandywine Traveler: 84,614   
  • Instagram Reach: 172,480 - 164% increase from 2017
  • Twitter Reach: 56,052 - 5% increase from 2017

Total Social Media Following: 35,259

  • Facebook Likes: 28,131 - 27% increase from 2017
  • Downtown West Chester: 25,783; Brandywine Traveler: 2,348
  • Instagram Followers:  5,015 - 82% increase from 2017
  • Twitter Followers: 2,113 - 21% increase from 2017

Total Social Media Engagement: 276,673

  • Facebook Engagement: 258,770 - 1% decrease from 2017
  • Downtown West Chester: 240,925; Brandywine Traveler: 17,845
  • Instagram Engagement: 15,476 - 72% increase from 2017
  • Twitter Engagement: 2,427 - 67% increase from 2017

DowntownWestChester.com:

  • Total Website Visitors: 114,600 (152,992 times)
  • Total Page Views: 255,776

Top Web Pages:
1) Events Calendar 12,706 | Christmas Parade 12,196 | Events at a Glance 9,456 = 34,358

2) Parking mobile 7,776 | Parking 5,680 | Justice Center Parking Garage 5,554 | Parking Map 4,969 | Chestnut St Garage 4,063 | Parking Directory 3,278 = 31,320

3) Homepage 17,820 | Homepage mobile 5,621 = 23,441

4) Restaurant Directory mobile 8,812 | Restaurant Directory 7,265 | Dining Tab 3,958 = 20,055

5) Visitors Guide 8,449 | Mobile Visitors Guide 5,596 = 14,045

6) Shopping Tab 4,460 | First Friday 3,958 | Shopping Directory 3,007 = 11,425

7) Photo Gallery = 3,243

MARKETING RESOURCES & PUBLICATIONS 2018

PUBLISHED STORIES (12)

  • AAA World Magazine (Mid-Atlantic Edition, 4.5M readers) March/April--All Roads lead to West Chester "This Pennsylvania Borough that’s earned accolades such as ‘Great American Main Street’ and ‘Best Place to Live’ makes a great weekend destination."
  • County Lines Magazine (80,000+ monthly readers) December: Festive Season in West Chester | June: Embracing Change & Empowering Our Future | January: Take a Foodie Trek Around the World in West Chester
  • Daily Local News--November: Shopping Small in West Chester | May: Businesses to Stay Open During Construction 
  • Fig West Chester (100,000+ readers, 22,200 digital audience, 18,000+ social followers)--June 14: The Food & Drink Issue | March 12: The Women of West Chester | March 21: Blog - A Grand Hall for the People  
  • The WC Press (28,000+ monthly readers)--July: The Bloodless Battle of Turks Head and Evolution of the Chester County Courthouse "The birth of West Chester, much like the birth of our nation, began with a call to arms." | February: Why I Love West Chester "West Chester is a town you can easily fall in love with. It provides a sense of being comfortable, of being special."
  • West Chester Borough Newsletter (Direct mail to residents)--June: Improvements Coming to East Gay Street

BLOGS (12)
November 27: Sneak Preview of the movie Billboard proves to be a delight
-- Zeke Zelker’s new indie flick scheduled a release for Spring of 2019.

October 29: Downtown Plaza Development at Church & Gay to be named 44 WEST
-- The E. Kahn Development Corporation is now constructing downtown’s most dynamic development.
September 4: Mosquito Control Spray Scheduled for West Chester Borough on Tuesday, September 11, 2018 from 7:30pm to 11:30pm.

June 5: West Chester Team Recognized for Progressive Recycling Program
-- Sustainability project diverts 360 tons of food scraps from the landfill to composting bins.

June 3: 2018 Statewide Community Revitalization Conference Now Taking Place in West Chester
-- The Pennsylvania Downtown Center Annual Conference attracts more than 200 Main Street professionals and volunteers.

May 17: West Chester Borough Council Discussing Event Costs
-- While we don’t have much definitive information, we want to keep you up to date on the discussion for event costs.

May 15: Free Private Business Counseling and Small Business Workshops Presented by SCORE
-- Update your management skills by attending a local workshop or private counseling session.

May 12: Destination for Music Lovers Closes After 42 Years
-- The Mad Platter Record Store provided over a million musical memories.

April 25: Local Films and Oscar Nominees
-- West Chester Film Festival announces its line-up of award winning films.
 
April 3: West Chester BID Uses Live Streaming to Spread Awareness for Downtown Businesses
-- West Chester businesses team up for a dynamic approach with new video platforms.
 
February 2: Award Winning Musical and Actors Coming to West Chester
-- The Resident Theatre Company presents its biggest show yet at Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center.

January 28: Death of a Theater: Reflections on the Efforts to Save the Warner
-- The newest installment in the WC History series has Eric Lorgus talking about failed efforts to save an icon.

OTHER PUBLICATIONS

  • WC Parks and Recreation Activity Guide: 4 Editions (Direct mail to residents)
  • Downtown Brochure Guide: CTM & BID Distribution (Reach of 100,000+)

ON THE WEB:

Social Media

  • Facebook @DowntownWestChesterPA (25,885 followers)
  • Instagram @DowntownWestChesterPA (5,347 followers)
  • Twitter @DowntownWCPA (2,147 followers)

Email lists

  • Downtown: 625
  • General: 2,619

PARTNERS:

  • Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce
  • Chester County Conference & Visitors Bureau
  • West Chester University
  • Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development
  • VisitPhilly.com
  • ClassicTowns.org (DVRPC)
  • LongwoodGardens.org
  • Pennsylvania Downtown Center
  • West Chester Borough

OTHER MEDIA PARTNERS:

  • Vista.Today
  • West Chester Views
  • Localized App
  • West Chester Together


SECTION 6 | PARTNERSHIPS

Downtown Volunteers
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, community service hours are used when available to help keep downtown litter free. D.G.S. Landscaping Co. now manages sidewalk clean-up and select planters.

Vital Partnerships
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 CURRENT 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.

See the West Chester BID 5 Year Plan 2016-2020 (PDF) for 2016-2020 and 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:

Plaza development
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.

Proposed hotel
A 110-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.

Wayfinding improvements
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

2018 Board of Directors

Sandy Riper; Chair; Sunset Hill Jewelers & Fine Art Gallery; term expires end of 2019

Mike Reese, Treasurer; Fulton Bank; term expires end of 2021

Matthew Holliday, Secretary; West Chester Downtown Foundation; term expires end of 2019

Diane LeBold, Borough Council; term expires end of 2019

Holly Brown, property owner, term expires end of 2018

Thomas Crisp; Balance Hair Salon; term expires end of 2019

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 2022

William J. Scott, Jr, Vice-Chair; Resident, Borough Council member; term expires end of 2022

Tom Walsh, resident; term expires end of 2018

Adam Wetzel; Side Bar & Restaurant; term expires end of 2020

Kenneth Winston, Resident, term expires end of 2020

Mark Yoder; Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce; term expires end of 2018


Staff
Malcolm Johnstone, CMSM; Executive Director

Elizabeth McGuire; Administrator

Elle Steinman; Communications Specialist

Carol Lady; Bookkeeper

Meetings
The West Chester BID had the following Board and committee meetings in place for 2017. All meetings occurred at the BID office, 137 N High, at 8am, and are open to the public.

Board of Directors – Sandy Riper, chair
Meets 2nd Tuesday of the month; 8:00am

Advocacy & Design Committee -- Christopher Blakely, 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.

- - -

Please direct questions or comments to:
Malcolm Johnstone, Executive Director
West Chester BID
137 North High St
West Chester PA 19380
610-738-3350
mjohnstone@wcbid.com

DowntownWestChester.com

 
 

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Call 610.738.3350 or fax 484.843.2250