$11 million King St. Business Improvement District expected to pass city council

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The City of Charleston and the city’s King Street businesses are working together on an $11 million Business Improvement District (BID). The concept has been talked about since the late 1970s and it could finally be coming to fruition.

It would essentially improve the experience on the street from beautification to adding services for tourists and residents. The business owners would have more say in how to use funds for improvements.

The city’s recently adopted comprehensive plan calls for adopting a BID for the King Street area, something business owners are in favor of, and had a big part in pushing forward.

“With the Business Improvement District, this is basically the property owners, the business owners in the corridor coming to the city and saying, ‘hey, we know you guys are doing what you can, but we know you have limited resources. So, we want to be more participatory in the services that are delivered on the street, and we’re willing to contribute to pay for those’,” said Robert Summerfield, the Director of Planning, Preservation & Sustainability for the City of Charleston.

This plan is a partnership between the city and the Charleston Downtown Alliance, a non-profit made up of King Street business owners.

Enhanced cleaning, security requirements, an ambassador program, improved signage, street beautification, such as adding benches or flower boxes on the sidewalk, all may come as part of the BID.

“Generally speaking, Business Improvement Districts focus more on services than capital projects, but that can always be a part of the service delivery that they do,” said Summerfield.

One area of concern for many is the temporary traffic directions signs and cones on King Street for the purpose of directing traffic and limiting crime throughout the night. Summerfield says, creating more attractive fixes for those would be separate from the BID, but still could be something that comes out of it.

“We’re looking at few different strategies for addressing that because we have heard from the community, from the business community as well, that it’s not everybody’s favorite look even though everybody really likes the reduction in some of the bad behaviors that the police have been able to curtail with that approach, we know there’s some other options available,” explained Summerfield.

Funding for the project would come from multiple income streams including fees paid by King Street businesses and other fundraising efforts. The Charleston Downtown Alliance is also expected to request funding assistance from the city and the county.

The project is expected to cost around $11 million dollars over a 10-year time frame.

City council is expected to pass the BID at the Tuesday council meeting.

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