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Aspen mulls Business Improvement District

Janet Urquhart

A meeting between commercial landlords, business interests and a Denver consultant may be the next step in assessing support for the formation of a Business Improvement District in Aspen.

About a dozen business representatives, along with city and Aspen Chamber Resort Association officials, met today with the executive director of the Business Improvement District in the city of Boulder to learn more about what a BID can do. Aspen’s Commercial Core and Lodging Commission hosted the session.

The special tax district was created in downtown Boulder in 2000 with the mission of marketing the downtown and augmenting maintenance and services ” like trash pickup and graffiti cleanup ” on the Pearl Street Mall and surrounding area. Its scope then expanded into efforts to spur economic vitality, said Jane Jenkins, who oversees a staff of five that runs the BID on the behalf of commercial properties within its boundaries.

“There are some things that government does well and there are some things government doesn’t do well at all,” said Bill Dinsmoor, CCLC chairman and local restaurant owner. “I think the BID may be an opportunity to fill in those don’t-do-well-at-all gaps.”

If a BID could produce sufficient revenue to do a decent job of marketing downtown Aspen, it may be worthwhile just for that reason, Dinsmoor contends.

“Aspen, effectively, really doesn’t spend enough money to market itself,” agreed Mark Goodman, a CCLC member and local retailer.

In Boulder, the BID has created a stable stream of dollars for marketing and all commercial properties within the district must contribute by virtue of the tax, Jenkins noted.

“To me, one of the biggest advantages of a BID is institutionalizing funds ” you’re not always running around with your hand out,” she said.

The BID in Boulder, which will sunset in a decade unless property owners vote to renew it, currently produces about $873,000 in revenue; Jenkins’ total budget is about $1.3 million, including money from other sources.

The owners of commercial properties get to vote on forming a BID, but the additional property tax is passed on to the tenants in those buildings, she added.

“The people who are actually paying the tax are the businesses,” Jenkins said.

For more on today’s discussion, see Thursday’s Aspen Times.

Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com


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