Key Uptown BID vote is underway


Voting begins this week to determine whether property owners on the southeast side of Grand Rapids want to establish the Uptown Business Improvement District, pay a special property assessment and enact the district’s marketing and development plan.

The district includes 249 parcels and 187 property owners, 93 of whom have already signed a petition supporting its creation. At least 30 percent of the owners had to sign the petition so the election could go forward. The voting is being done by mail.

The Uptown BID includes property owners in the Eastown Business Association, East Fulton Business Association, East Hills Business Association and Wealthy Street Business Alliance. Its boundaries include portions of Fulton Street, Lake Drive, Cherry Street and Wealthy Street.

City Economic Development Director Kara Wood said the ballots have been sent to property owners. The City Commission has already approved the creation of the Uptown BID.

Going forward with the district means property owners will pay an annual special assessment based on the amount of curb frontage each parcel has, which is defined as the length of the property that fronts a public right-of-way as recorded in the city’s assessor’s office.

The Uptown BID has 19,356 linear feet of curb frontage and the assessment formula would produce $92,168 for the district’s initial budget.

Commercial and industrial properties in the district would be assessed at $5.18 per linear foot, while nonprofits and churches would be charged half that amount at $2.59.

The district is also asking government-owned properties to pay $5.18 per linear foot even though these parcels aren’t assessable under the law. The thought behind that request is that governmental buildings also will benefit from the improvements so those properties should contribute, as well.

An additional assessment formula has been created for three corner lots in the district because these properties, one on Fulton and two on Lake Drive, also have commercial entrances on a side street. The curb frontage of those businesses on the side streets will be assessed at $2.59 per linear foot. Owners of unoccupied buildings also will be assessed.

The special assessment formula and rate will be set annually, but the assessment is only for five years.

As for the proposed budget coming from the assessment, the biggest share, $36,000, has been allocated to streetscape and landscape maintenance for a variety of things like trash pick-up, snow removal, bike racks, tree plantings, flower beds and seasonal decorations.

Another $24,168 would be spent on marketing and branding the Uptown BID through special events, advertising and banners. The budget also has $25,000 for managing the corridor. Another $5,000 is set aside for the annual financial report and audit, and $2,000 will go to cover the city’s administrative fee.

Property owners have until June 7 to vote. Wood said the election result will come before city commissioners June 18.

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