The choice at hand concerns a plan that would create a downtown business association, one that would strive to improve and promote the revitalized heart of the city. As soon as December, landholders within the to-be-created district will vote on whether or not to tax themselves and spring the plan off paper.
The idea has been kicked around for months and has included consultants, a poll and a lot of thought — the main thought being that downtown commerce could use a boost, and a bigger, better business association could be a good way to do it.
As it is, the Downtown Tracy Business Improvement Area fills the role of area advocate. The DTBIA has helped sponsor events such as the Tracy Wine Stroll and weekly farmers market, both winning attractions. Ideally, a brawnier outfit could be an even bigger boon, building on the successes of the DTBIA while improving on its weaknesses.
Hence the proposed Downtown Tracy Community Benefit District. With a bigger budget and buy-in than the DTBIA, which it would replace, the new district could give downtown Tracy an improved chance of surviving — perhaps thriving in — our extended economic rainy day.
The time is right for the property owners of downtown Tracy to consider this proposal and bet on their own success. The City Council, at least, certainly thinks so.
Earlier this week, the council lent its support to the plan. And the city will literally put its money where its mouth is, as Tracy is a significant downtown landholder. Yes, that money comes from taxes. But that estimated $15,000 will be money well spent if it continues the renaissance of the city core.
The city’s investment through the redevelopment district — the streetscape project, transit station, Grand Theatre, etc. — is a real commitment that should be commended. With the increasing involvement of the city to improve downtown’s economic prospects, it’s time for businesses there to pull together in a district that deals with all the issues involving their shared space.
Still, that investment needs to be rewarded with real returns.
Property owners and business operators must get value for the tax money they contribute under any association. The new district must place an emphasis on promoting the downtown as a business center, where service, retail stores and restaurants co-mingle to create a vibrant atmosphere in which people can shop, take care of business, sip coffee and have a meal. Retail merchants especially need leadership in developing strategies to bring customers into their businesses.
And, as always, administrative costs must be kept in line to maximize the impact of the dollars spent.
Property owners should be willing to take a close look at the proposal, which has many appealing elements, to make certain its potential benefits are realistically assessed and are in line with its costs.
If these conditions are met, a new business district could help usher in a new era of downtown vitality. And that is a prospect worth voting for.
By the numbers:
• $132,000: Estimated annual budget of the proposed Downtown Tracy Community Benefit District.
• $50,000: Amount of the proposed district’s budget that would be spent annually on special events, such as the Tracy Wine Stroll.
• $39,000: Amount of the proposed district’s budget that would be spent annually on administrative costs.
• $25,000: Amount of the proposed district’s budget that would be spent annually on extra downtown maintenance and beautification.
• $12,000: Amount of the proposed district’s budget that would be spent annually to encourage more businesses to locate in downtown Tracy.
• 11: Percentage of land within the proposed district that belongs to the city of Tracy.
• $14,520: Estimated annual tax contribution of the city toward the proposed district.