ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A Business Improvement District (BID) is in the works in the City of Rochester after the city council voted to move forward with the planning process last month.
News 8’s Ally Peters spoke with Galin Brooks, the President, and CEO of the Rochester Downtown Development Corporation (RDDC), about the BID and what attracted them to Rochester.
What exactly is a Business Improvement District?
Brooks said a BID is a new term and a word many people aren’t yet familiar with.
“Business Improvement Districts happen when the private sector comes together, and pulls their resources to fund new services and programs for a given area,” Brooks said. “There are at least 1,200 in the US alone, thousands throughout the world, over 100 in New York State, and a basic tenant of BID work is business support, retention and attraction, nut a lot of what BIDS do is build thriving, connected, resilient and dynamic communities.”
The first BID formed was in Toronto in the 1970s, according to Brooks. She said the urban core there was experiencing a “certain amount of disinvestment” as more people moved to the suburbs.
“So folks there got together and said, ‘What are they doing that we’re not? How can we better compete with the suburbs?’ They came up with this model to pool their resources to fund collective programs like marketing and events, and environmental services,” Brooks said.
What attracted RDDC to Rochester?
“Rochester is at an amazing point in time in its growth and recovery. The city itself has such great bones and history, and the spirit of innovation and community here and access to nature are really unparalleled,” Brooks said.
“Downtown Rochester is at this incredible moment in time right now. The last few years have been hard for cities everywhere, but there are many bright spots here in downtown Rochester. We’ve had close to 10,000 residents move here and make Downtown Rochester their home.”
Brooks adds there are also several key “catalytic projects” that are poised to help further combat the disinvestment and vacancy that exists Downtown.
“I’m sure you’ve heard about the ROC the Riverway Project, which is on a roll bringing wonderful new public spaces to our riverfront in the heart of Rochester,” Brooks said. “There’s also the Strong Museum’s 90,000 square foot expansion, and the Constellation Brands move into the heart of Rochester.”
She adds that many state, county, and city leaders have come together to help kick off the development of the proposed plan for a BID.
“Groups like ROC 2025, the Empire State Development, are really championing a potential vision for Business Improvement District for downtown to help revitalize and reinvigorate the urban core,” Brooks said. “This idea actually came out of a study that the city led to better identify a potential management entity for the ROC the Riverway spaces, and the idea was really conceived as a great opportunity to better knit together the downtown and the riverfront spaces to open up more opportunity for all.”
Where does the BID process stand now?
Brooks said creating a BID is a “long and layered process.” The RDDC is just starting its work after the Rochester City Council voted last month to approve the planning phase.
“There are a number of different steps governed by New York State law that includes several votes by the city council that will have to happen to further the process and to eventually lead to an adoption of our proposed plan for Business Improvement District for downtown,” Brooks said.
There are a number of engagement opportunities happening in the coming months to learn more about the development of a BID. On the third of every month, there will be office hours held for community members.
On Thursday, Sept 15., there are office hours from 4-6 p.m. at the Sibley Building Downtown.
You can learn more about RDDC and the BID by clicking here.