City Council this week approved moving forward to suspend Adams Square’s designation as a Business Improvement District for another year, which means businesses there will have no levy assessments and it gives business owners time to reactivate the designation, if they choose.
Adams Square was hit hard in 2011 with the dismantling of the city’s redevelopment agency, which gave each of the city’s business improvement districts funding for promotions and services, such as graffiti removal and tree trimming.
In addition to funding concerns, only about 10% of the businesses in Adams Square actively participated in the organization, which was formed more than eight years ago, according to a city report.
There are almost 50 businesses in the district, who were self-assessed $120 a month to be part of the district.
Adams Square’s advisory board requested in late 2012 that the business improvement designation be dissolved, starting in 2013.
However, city officials decided to merely suspend the designation and assessments for a year to see if the district could be revived.
“The merchants there are aware of this,” said City Manager Scott Ochoa about the latest proposal to suspend assessment. “Obviously, they’re supportive of it, in terms of not getting that assessment.”
He added that the extension also allows time for the state to possibly come up with economic development funds, which could help business districts.
John Cianfrini, who was president of the Adams Square advisory board and is owner of Crysti Dry Cleaning and Laundry, said he’s not sure the merchants would welcome the return of the $120 annual assessment which would come with reactivating the designation.
“A blessing would be to suspend it again, give us another year. Then, we need Obama to come down here and send us a bunch of money,” he said, chuckling.
He recalled the days when the organization held street fairs with rides and booths that would attract large crowds. Then, as money dwindled, it scaled back to movie nights.
“That was still good,” Cianfrini said.
However, when the redevelopment funding was eliminated and participation and support from merchants never grew, it became hard to keep the organization going.
“Without money, you’re limited. Without bodies and money, you’re dead,” he said.
City Council will hold a public hearing about the proposed temporary suspension on Feb. 25.