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Downtown West Chester Five Year Plan 2006-2010

Downtown West Chester Five Year Plan 2006-2010Annual Report
The BID's 2007 annual report entitled Accomplishments of 2007 and Goals for 2008 is now available. Click here to see it in pdf format.

This Five Year Plan, as approved by the Board of Directors of the West Chester Business Improvement District (BID), intends to provide the best program for achieving the common goals of property and business owners within the BID.

An important feature of our continued success is the development of measurable goals. It is meant to be a road map for success in downtown. It is flexible enough to respond to immediate challenges, yet comprehensive enough to provide a long-term vision of the future.

Generally, the BID will continue to do three essential things:
Bring more Customers downtown
Bring more Businesses downtown
Advocate for the Downtown Business Community

Over the past five years, it is clear that the downtown commercial community has had a unique opportunity to govern how downtown West Chester has grown and developed. The BID program, developed and governed by the downtown community, has been extremely dynamic. It is anticipated that growth and expansion within downtown should continue at a rate of about five percent per year. This will only happen if there continues to be a dynamic long-term program in place to support expansion and economic health while maintaining the quality of life that is enjoyed in West Chester.

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Governing Body
The Board of Directors of the West Chester Business Improvement District Authority (BID Authority) is the administrative body that governs the West Chester Business Improvement District. The statutory authority for the BID Authority is the Municipal Authorities Act of 1945, approved May 2, 1945, P.L. 382 and the Neighborhood Improvement District Act, approved December 20, 2000, P.L. 949, No. 130. Each board member is appointed for a three year term by the Borough Council from a list provided by the current board. No member may serve more than three consecutive terms. As per the Bylaws of the BID, reasonable efforts are made to ensure that the board members adequately represent the diverse interests and organizations located in the Borough, including but not limited to: commercial property owners, retail business operators, restaurant operators, personal service providers, financial service providers, legal offices, Borough government, Chester County government, the Chamber of Commerce of Greater West Chester, non-profit organizations, residents, and institutions of higher learning. The board consists of 15 members.

2005 Board of Directors
Lance J. Nelson, Esq, Chair MacElree Harvey, Ltd
Frederick T. Gusz, Jr, Vice-Chair First Mortgage Brokers, Inc.
H. Paul Fitzpatrick, Secretary West Chester Borough Council
A. Roy Smith, Treasurer Community Representative
Patrick Comerford, Past-Chair, Jane Chalfant
The Honorable Carol Aichele, Chester County Commissioner
Christopher P. Blakely, 1st National Bank of Chester County
P. Timothy Phelps, Iron Hill Twilight Criterium
Tony Mastroianni, Downtown Property Owner
Ernie B. McNeely, Borough of West Chester
Ann Mintz , Chester County Historical Society
Ray H. Ott, Jr., Ray Ott & Associates
Debbie Pekala, Romantic Jewelers
Jacqueline Van Grofski, Arthur Hall Insurance, Inc.
Patricia Bazán Garrubbo, Garrubbo Bazán Gallery

Malcolm Johnstone, Executive Director
Elizabeth McGuire, Program Associate, Administration

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Organizational Structure

The activities of the West Chester BID are divided into a number of areas each addressed by a committee. The following is a list of standing committees and their general long-term goals.

Customer Marketing
>> Enhance and promote website as an internet portal for the downtown business community. Goal: 75,000 + unique users per year.

>> Update and distribute the Retail & Restaurant Directory and Map. Goal: print and distribute 20,000 per year.

>> Continue to maintain and distribute the Perfect Town Brochure to the greater Philadelphia and Wilmington areas. Goal: print and distribute 50,000 per year.

>> Continue an active Public Relations Program to promote downtown West Chester as a destination for shopping, dining and professional center through both a positive political and business image. Goal: enhance image library; create press packet; and expand contact list.

>> Continue to place positioning information for downtown West Chester in both the Chester County and Delaware County Visitor Guides. Goal: four editions per year.

>> Maintain and support Swingin' Summer Thursdays events each year. Goal: four events per year.

>> Enhance and expand Bus Tour Marketing in partnership with the Chester County Conference & Visitors Bureau and Delaware County Conference & Visitors Bureau. Goal: At least one bus tour company familiarization tour per year.

>> Enhance Main Line Today Magazine Special Advertising Section. Goal: expand distribution to 50,000 per year.

>> Streamline administration of Downtown Gift Certificates and promote in seasonal ad campaigns. Goal: $20,000 value in sales per year.

>> Support the Downtown Retailers Association Fall Fashion Show to promote downtown West Chester as a stylish place to shop. Goal: positive article placements in fashion media.

>> Work with Downtown Retailers Association to continue Holiday Wish List. Goal: involve all downtown retailers.

Downtown Advocacy
>> Continue the Clean & Green Program to provide contracted downtown sidewalk cleaning services to remove litter and spillage from sidewalks and planters; spray and remove weeds; provide assistance to visitors such as directions, brochures and contact information of the BID; and report missing bricks, sidewalk or curb damage, refuse accumulation, property repair issues, and graffiti. Goal: continue contract for four-day a week coverage.

>> Develop an advocacy program to address the challenges of Downtown Parking. Goal: compile a recommendation to the Borough regarding the Mosteller Garage reconstruction as it effects future development; develop effective parking informational program.

>> Assist in minimizing negative effects of the Justice Center construction by keeping affected property and business owners informed. Goal: continue efforts through the completion of the Justice Center.

>> Maintain membership in business & economic development organizations and participate or act as liaison for the interest of the downtown community.

>> Participate on Borough Council Ad Hoc Liquor License committee to address issues arising from liquor licensed establishments in downtown. Goal: assist implementing report recommendations through 2006.

>> Support the community revitalization efforts of the East End Neighborhood Association through the Elm Street Program as a facilitator and liaison for funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development.

>> Expand the Façade Improvement Program to allow a maximum of $3,000 per property candidate. Goal: secure funding through DCED contract term through June, 2007.

>> Provide limited Design Assistance to property owners for upgrades.

>> Support implementing the Wayfinding Signage System. Goal: Implement in 2006.

Business Attraction
>> Support and facilitate the development of a 60 to 100 room downtown hotel with meeting room space and facilities to meet the demands of small conferences and local meetings.

>> Develop plan for attracting a theater.

>> Position downtown as a professional business center for office locations. Goal: reduce commercial vacancy rate.

>> Assist property owners with bringing on-line vacant storefronts. Goal: reduce number of 'non-rentable' spaces.

>> Compile a West Chester Retail Standards on web and in publication. Goal: provide information in universal format.

>> Maintain and distribute Your Guide to Doing Business In West Chester booklet.

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Cooperative Agreement with West Chester Borough
The BID Authority has a cooperative agreement with West Chester Borough that states that the BID Authority and West Chester Borough may cooperate in implementing certain projects, programs or services in the BID plan, that the Borough will maintain the same level of programs and services within the BID as before the BID designation, and the Borough will maintain at least one Council member on the Board. Basically, this means no activities generally performed by the municipal government shall be undertaken or transferred to the BID Authority. A copy of the agreement may be examined at the Borough Manager's office, 401 East Gay Street, West Chester, PA 19380 and the Business Improvement District office, 119 North High Street, West Chester, PA 19380.

Procedures for Filing Objections
The reestablishment of the West Chester BID shall be subject to a negative vote by persons representing ownership of 40 percent of the properties within the proposed district. Any objections to the plan or the reestablishment of the West Chester BID must be filed in writing by benefited property owners with the Borough Manager, c/o West Chester Borough, 401 East Gay Street, West Chester, PA 19380 within 45 days of the presentation of the final plan.

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The assessment rate will be calculated as .00275 of assessed value as determined by the Chester County Assessment Office (CCAO). Properties with mixed commercial and residential uses have the payment discounted by the percentage of net leasable square footage used as apartments, also determined by the CCAO. If approved, billing will be annually through December 31, 2010. The assessment rate will not change during that term.

As an example, an exclusively commercial property assessed at $100,000 will pay $275 per year. The median payment for all properties is calculated to be approximately $259 per year.

Voluntary payments from non-profit organizations within the BID are requested annually.

Proposed Budget for 2006

Property Assessments $151,232
Borough Grant $85,000
Program Sponsorships $7,250
Grants $38,500
Miscellaneous Income $1,900
Total Revenues $283,881

Personnel and Administration $37,733
Office Operations $38,937

Programs and Services
Advocacy Executive Director $79,406
Marketing/advertising $35,501
Business Attraction $5,514

Maintenance and Operation
Swingin' Summer Thursdays $11,250
Flower/Beautification $20,700
Sidewalk Cleaning $24,840

Capital Expenditures
Facade Improvement $30,000
Total Expenditures: $283,881

This and future proposed annual budgets will be determined and approved by the Board annually based on experience from prior years. Unused funds will be carried over to the next fiscal year.

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Benefited Properties within the West Chester BID
Properties with commercial and industrial uses within these boundaries are considered to be benefited properties and will share the costs of the program by paying an annual assessment fee. These include properties classified by Chester County Assessment Office Land Use Codes as "Commercial" (C-10 through C-96), "Industrial" (M-10 through M-30), "Vacant Commercial" (V-11), and "Dwelling within Commercial Use" (R-60 and R-61). Properties excluded from assessment are tax-exempt, residential, or utility properties. These include properties classified by Chester County Assessment Office Land Use Codes as "Tax-Exempt" (E-10 through E-90), purely "Residential" (R-10 through R-90, except R-60 and R-61), "Vacant Residential" (V-10) and "Public Utility" (U-03, U-04).

A copy of each of the benefitted properties within the Business Improvement District is available upon request at:
West Chester Business Improvement District (A Municipal Authority)
PO Box 3109
119 North High Street
West Chester, PA 19381
phone 610-738-3350
fax 484-843-2250

Malcolm Johnstone, Executive Director


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Call 610.738.3350 or fax 484.843.2250