DAN SENFTNER: BID vote to make or break plaza

2010-05-12T06:00:00Z DAN SENFTNER: BID vote to make or break plazaDan Senftner Rapid City Journal
May 12, 2010 6:00 am  • 

Main Street Square will not become a reality without voter approval of the Downtown Business Improvement District. Funds from the district are needed to help cover the annual operating costs of the venue. The petition process that gained support to hold a city-wide election on June 29 will now give Rapid City citizens an opportunity to show support for Main Street Square and development in the heart of our city. With zero additional cost to Rapid City citizens, voting in favor of the BID will provide an amazing downtown event venue to be enjoyed by generations to come.

The Business Improvement District will receive approximately $174,000 a year from assessments of downtown property owners. This averages to 342 properties paying $34.25 per month. The assessment initially will fund operation of the proposed Main Street Square on the corner of Sixth and Main streets, and will provide funding for future downtown projects.

Main Street Square will allow public and private organizations to bring a huge variety of events to the city center. Downtown events not only provide a great atmosphere for the attendees, but they also have an outstanding economic impact on the surrounding shops and restaurants.

The exposure that Summer Nights has given our downtown businesses each Thursday night during the summer has been incredible. The addition of many more events will assure future prosperity of the area.

The creation of a downtown business improvement district was unanimously approved by City Council after a large majority of downtown property owners advocated to self-impose the assessments and create the district. Downtown business improvement districts have been created in communities throughout our nation to help fund major improvement projects and operate similar programs. These districts provide a structured way for property owners to join forces to support services downtown, to market downtown as a collective destination and to compete with other commercial centers.

As strip malls and outdoor shopping centers in outlying areas continue to pop up and draw people to the city's edges, downtown needs an extra boost to remain beautiful, modern and local-business-minded, while preserving its historic character.

As a public-private partnership, Main Street Square's $6.5 million construction cost is being supported by the city and local businesses.

A request has been made for $3.5 million from the city's Vision 2012 funds. The remaining $3 million will be funded with private sector donations that already have been raised. Private donors also have agreed to fund any Main Street Square costs that might exceed the improvement district's assessment funds, thereby ensuring no burden falls on the city or taxpayers.

Main Street Square will be an all-year venue, designed to invite warm weather events from small weddings to large music festivals and winter use with an ice-skating rink. Please mark your calendars for June 29. We are counting on Rapid City's citizens to vote in favor of the enhancement of downtown, in favor of community events downtown and in favor of the creation of the Downtown Business Improvement District.

Dan Senftner is president and CEO of Destination Rapid City, founded in 2008 to organize downtown revitalization. He can be reached at 605-716-7979 or at www.downtownrapidcity.com.


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(5) Comments

  1. TheIronHorse
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    TheIronHorse - May 13, 2010 10:55 pm
    I'm pretty iffy on this whole deal also. Seems to me like the only people that will benefit from this are the 5 or 6 families that currently run this city and maybe a few civic leaders. Its sad that it has to come to another tax. Don't we have enough taxes the way it is?
  2. Phyllis
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    Phyllis - May 13, 2010 10:36 pm
    Well put Dan. Kudos.
  3. Visard
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    Visard - May 12, 2010 12:09 pm
    This is doubtlessly an understatement: “of zero additional cost to Rapid City citizenas” as it veers to a veracity of a request of 2012 (taxpayer) funds of $3.5 million.

    It’s been said the assumed yearly $174,000 will provide for the operation and maintenance costs for the square and that overtime, the organizers ‘hope’ the plaza will become self-sufficient.

    A question that needs to be verified is what happens if the $174,000 falls short of sustaining the operation.
  4. Joseph Budd
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    Joseph Budd - May 12, 2010 8:48 am
    Let's point out a few things that are wrong in Dan's piece, shall we?
    Number one: "With zero additional cost to Rapid City citizens"
    If you live downtown, work downtown or buy something downtown, you will pay for the plaza. If you live downtown, your landlord probably won't give you a break on the rent when it goes up. The bill is passed down, just like the Black Hills Power and Light passed the cost of the new power plant on to us.
    Number two: "This averages to 342 properties paying $34.25 per
    Averages are a good form of statistics. Now how many people believe that it'll just be 34.25 per month? It all depends on your property...and who's paying the lower amounts and who will be saddled with the higher amounts?
    Number three: "outstanding economic impact on the surrounding
    shops and restaurants."
    True, it will. Businesses near the park will find their customers walking away from their businesses, going to the park. And if you have a restaurant who charges $35 for a meal, do you think people will come there to eat, when they can get a meal for $10 from a vendor in the park?
    Number four: "a large majority of downtown property owners"
    I've heard some question, on the dating of some of these signatures, from the majority....being signed before they were to be gathered....any way I can look into this?
    Number five: "Downtown business improvement districts have been created in communities throughoutour nation to help fund major improvement projects and operate similar programs"
    While this may be fine in Atlanta or Los Angeles, do we live there? No, we live in Rapid City South Dakota. People come to our city because of it's heritage, it's standard as being part of the "Old West". Do you think people will suddenly flock to Rapid City because of a park?
    Pretty simple....Dan needs to address a few problems with his plans, firsthand...before he taxes people he can't see.
  5. TheNJDevil
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    TheNJDevil - May 12, 2010 8:00 am
    How does a self imposed tax (and mind you by property owners not business owners that rent the property), address the concerns of the citizens for downtown?
    1) Parking is not adequate, taking away parking spaces will not improve the parking situation.
    2) Cost. Shopping downtown costs more than shopping at the mall or the new mall. A tax will ONLY raise prices higher.
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