Graham Kilmer
Plats and Parcels

Bay View Businesses Rebel Against BID

In a city with many BIDs, should others worry about such challenges?

By - May 6th, 2018 08:54 pm
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The Avalon

The Avalon

About half of Bay View business owners want to dissolve their Business Improvement District, according to a story this week by Tom Daykin at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The district runs from Becher Street along Kinnickinnic Avenue to Morgan Avenue. It collects funds through a special assessment of property value on commercial property, Daykin wrote. And recently a petition has been filed with the Department of City Development seeking to dissolve the local BID.

The BID has been part of the revitalization of the Kinnickinnic avenue business district, which not long ago was lined with boarded up shops and, as the local Alderman Tony Zielinski is often one to point out, was a rogues gallery of characters engaging in felonious activity. And what credit Zielinski doesn’t give himself for the revitalization of this strip, he often awards to the local business owners and the BID.

The BID, usually under the leadership and representation of Board President Lee Barczak, has thrown its weight behind projects or initiatives that would likely benefit the district even in contentious public meetings, where he would stand up and defend these developments, sometimes in the face of hostile opposition from Bay View residents.

The BID collects about $55,000 to fund its operations, as Daykin reported, which is a paltry sum if one considers the millions of dollars worth of real estate and capital that runs through the BID each year. The group uses these funds to coordinate events between the businesses to attract people to the district, works on streetscaping and beautification campaigns, and develop initiatives that create connections between the businesses and other neighborhood institutions, such as a service learning project it has with Bay View high school.

But roughly half of the stakeholders in the BID want to get rid of it and stop paying the BID fees, of which the minimum collection is $100 and the max is $1000, Daykin reported.

Now, I’m not sneezing at sums like that; I understand that small businesses sometimes operate on razor-thin profit margins. And clearly some in the district think the BID isn’t worth the cash, when they could spend it on a new sign or perhaps a raise for a valued employee.

Daykin noted that a 2017 study by the Wisconsin Policy Forum on the city’s BIDs showed there is a dearth of data available on their impact. It also found Milwaukee has more BIDs than most big cities in the nation. Perhaps the other BIDs in town should take what’s happening in Bay View as a warning. They may want to consider developing metrics that measure and demonstrate their impact. It will only help them in the future, should they be confronted with a similar petition.

As for Bay View, the revitalization of its business district has added millions in value to the area, in both real estate and the local gross domestic product. Given that success, liquidating the BID may turn out to be a penny-wise and pound-foolish decision.

New Apartments Along Streetcar Route

It’s too soon to start telling streetcar opponents to eat their words, but The Hop is already a factor in new investment; albeit, in a downtown market that hasn’t had too much trouble attracting investment in recent years.

Jeramey Jannene reported this week that a Chicago based developer is planning to turn a largely vacant office building along the route, at 828 N. Broadway, into apartments. This developer, Paul Dincin, said he became interested in the building because of the streetcar and the new buildings and amenities that are surrounding it.

It’s a little early to call the project a success, so I won’t do that. But this is exactly the sort of development that streetcar proponents said would happen.

And I know that a few politicians from the city’s South Side would likely salivate at the political capital they could make out of a streetcar failure. But, I hope I speak for all Milwaukeeans in noting that a streetcar win is a victory for everybody, because all our tax dollars are at stake.

Wolf Peach Building Sells, So Goodbye Garden

It’s official. The restaurant formerly known as Wolf Peach has now come under the control of new owners.

Carl Tomich, president of Westridge Builders Inc., is the leader of the new ownership group, Daykin reports. And Tomich and his gang have decided to get rid of the vegetable garden on the site in favor of an expanded patio.

In Other News:

Josh Jeffers continues his buying spree with the purchase of another historic building.

– Jeramey Jannene has new photos of a residential tower rising up on Farwell Avenue.

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