Grove could establish business improvement district within a year
By Risa Polansky
After easing into the idea for more than two years, the Coconut Grove Business Improvement Committee could establish a district within a year, Executive Director David Collins says.
"Coconut Grove as a commercial area is in need of some enhancement right away," he said. "It's going to happen."
The committee is an advisory arm of the City of Miami run by a 14-member stakeholder board.
It was founded in 2004, Mr. Collins said, "in order to transition into a BID."
Property owners in a business improvement district vote to tax themselves to fund area improvements and marketing.
The Miami City Commission must approve establishment of a district.
Consultant Daniel Biederman, head of two New York improvement districts, is studying the area to determine potential boundaries, assessment fees and needs. Proposals for boundaries, tax method and assessment will be announced within 10 days, Mr. Collins said.
In a presentation to the committee last week, Mr. Biederman rated the area as a "7 or 8 out of 10" compared with other districts in the US and said the Grove has potential to become the best in the country.
The most apparent needs, he said, are sanitation, security and improvement to some storefronts.
"The kinds of things we're talking about are not rocket science," Mr. Collins said. "The biggest items on the list are cleaner and safer."
Such services are provided by the City of Miami, but the aim of an improvement district is to supplement and improve them.
Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, chairman of the Grove Improvement Committee, said he initially thought an improvement district unnecessary but now "I'm probably the biggest advocate in the world for a BID."
The city tends to focus on large projects, he said, and "a lot of things in this administration get said but there's very little action."
He told business owners to "take destiny in your own hands — you don't want the City of Miami controlling your life. You're not big enough. They don't care about you enough. You're not the Orange Bowl, you're not a Marlins stadium, you're not Museum Park. You guys need a BID until something changes in this administration, until they understand that the small matters."
A BID would focus on marketing of area businesses, Mr. Collins said, as well as institute programs such as the hiring of guides to answer visitors' questions.
"The Grove is interested in a BID because we've been searching for a vehicle we could drive the community with," he said. "There's so much going on in the community that's potentially positive, it's time for us to synchronize these efforts."
Downtown Development Authority officials have suggested a business improvement district for the area within the authority's boundaries.