Local business owners fight for a BID

According to Kimport, the BID would work with the residential community to establish the neighborhood’s desires and needs and help make them happen.

In an effort to keep and maintain Fishtown’s thriving business corridor, one local businessman is pushing for a business improvement district (BID) to help benefit the entire community.

“It’s mostly just an organized community effort to do cleaning and stuff,” explained Paul Kimport, owner of area establishments such as Johnny Brenda’s, Standard Tap and The International. “Street cleaning litter and trash, better pedestrian lighting on sidewalks, bike lanes, and crosswalks [are all areas the BID would look to improve].”

According to Kimport, the BID would work with the residential community to establish the neighborhood’s desires and needs and help make them happen.

The project would be funded by a “progressive tax” on small businesses in the area that would pay for the BID’s expenses, which, according to Kimport, would likely include one staff member to help with administrative duties. He said businesses like bars and restaurants would likely pay a higher tax rate than businesses such as manufacturing centers, since they would benefit more from the BID.

“The idea is to be fair and have it based on your size and type of businesses,” Kimport said.

Kimport said a variety of other business owners are interested in the idea, including owners of Frankford Hall, The Fillmore and Roland Kassis, who owns a variety of properties in the area.

“BIDs are modeled after common area maintenance (CAM) fees in shopping mall,” reads the Fishtown BID’s website. “In addition to their rent, mall tenants pay an extra fee to maintain and beautify the public areas in the malls and provide things like “free” parking, security, lighting, and marketing for the mall as a whole.”

According to the website, the BID would be independently governed by a board of directors comprised of property owners, business people and other individuals. There are already 14 BIDs in Philadelphia.

“The first BID was Center City District, which was created in 1990,” the website says. “Other BIDs in operation are Aramingo Shopping District, Chestnut Hill District, City Avenue District, East Passyunk Avenue BID, Germantown Special Services District, Manayunk Special Services District, Mayfair BID, Mount Airy BID, Northern Liberties BID, Roxborough District, Old City District, Port Richmond Industrial Development Enterprise, and South Street/Headhouse District.”

According to Kimport, all BIDs must first be recognized by City Council before they are an established authority with the ability to raise their own taxes in the area.

The plan is in the very early stages, and Kimport postulates that residents shouldn’t expect the organization to be up and running for about another two years. In the meantime, residents can provide input into the plan at fishtownbid.org.