improvement districts. Business improvement districts are ones in
which the participating businesses band together and pay dues. Those
dues ultimately pay for improvements in that district. As it stands,
Adams Square and Downtown Glendale merchants have been funded by
$15,000 a year from the city for redevelopment improvements. But a
funding contract ends in three years, and the Redevelopment Agency
has challenged the associations to formally organize improvement
districts and begin relying on their own assessments.
Henning was contracted by the city in February for $30,000. He
will develop a feasibility study for the districts and met with
association leaders in April to give an overview of the process.
The study will include door-to-door surveys on what merchants want
and a decision among merchants on if the districts members will be
the property owners or tenants, Economic Development Manager Dave
Ahern said. It will also include defining the boundaries of a given
"[Improvement districts] are truly the glue that holds these
businesses together," Ahern said. "Because everyone pays into it,
everyone has an interest in the group's financial success."
Merchant leaders see the districts as a way of solidifying
merchant participation for the good of the whole because sometimes
business owners talk about making improvements such as lighting,
landscaping and security, but don't get around to it. They also
envision a certain financial independence.
"You're never sure if the city can continue to fund you or not,"
Adams Square merchant Carol Cianfrini said.
Obstacles do exist, however.
"Some merchants will be more driven than others," Ahern said,
adding that retailers could have more of an interest than
accountants, for example, because of advertising concerns.
The feasibility study should be done within 90 days.