Glendale ponders new business improvement district

Some commercial property owners in Glendale want to create a business improvement district (BID) for the area east of Port Washington Road between the Milwaukee River, North Richards Street and West Capitol Drive and a portion of the area west of Port Washington Road between West Glendale Avenue, North Green Bay Avenue and West Fiebrantz Avenue.

The name of the proposed BID is the Riverview Business Improvement District.

In a business improvement district property owners are assessed an additional tax that is used entirely for improvements to help promote business in the district.

For the proposed Riverview BID property owners would pay a 50 cent tax per $1,000 of assessed valuation, up to $1,000 total per property. The annual budget for the BID would be about $30,000, said Brian Monroe, managing partner of Earthbound Development LLC and owner of several properties in the proposed BID area

The concept has been done with some success for several BIDs in the city of Milwaukee including the Downtown Milwaukee BID, Historic Third Ward BID, Historic King Drive BID, East North Avenue BID and others.

But business improvement districts are a new concept for Glendale. The Riverview Business Improvement District would be the first BID in Glendale.

“It’s something I do believe has tremendous potential,” said Jay Hintze, a developer and the former mayor of Glendale.

Glendale has made significant investments to attract businesses, including the use of tax incremental financing (TIF), but the city is largely tapped out for such initiatives, Hintze said. A BID could help raise the Riverview area to the next level, he said.

“The area itself has had significant improvement during the last 15 years, because of (the city of) Glendale’s involvement,” said Monroe. “But the city of Glendale is really tapped out in what they can provide.”

The Riverview area also has a significant business presence. The Estabrook Corporate Park and the Glendale Technology Center are part of the proposed BID. There are several health care facilities in the proposed BID area including the corporate headquarters for Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare and Columbia St. Mary’s, the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin and Columbia St. Mary’s River Woods Campus. The area is also home to the Weyco Group Inc. corporate headquarters, the Sprecher Brewing Company, the Hilton Milwaukee River hotel and Solly’s Grille.

The top priority for the Riverview BID is to add more signs to direct people coming to Glendale to many of those key destinations in the BID area.

“Signage is of primary concern,” Hintze said. “When people get off the highway, (they wonder) where is this business district? They don’t know.”

BID funds would also be used for more garbage cans and for median plantings. Those may sound like small things but they can make a big impact on the image of the area for visitors and businesses.

“Little things like that will make the area look nicer to anybody visiting the area or looking to move their business to the area,” Monroe said.

The BID may also do fund-raises to generate more money for additional projects, such as the effort by area residents to preserve the Estabrook Dam on the Milwaukee River, Monroe said.

Although there are several major employers in the Riverview BID area there are also several vacant sites in the area, including some owned by Monroe.

“Hopefully (with the BID) my property values go up and we can attract more businesses,” he said.

Some property owners in the proposed BID area have expressed concern about paying an extra tax, but others support the idea and believe it is a good investment that will boost the area, Hintze said. A public hearing for the BID proposal was to be held before the Glendale Common Council just after press time.

“When people work together there are a lot of collaborative synergies,” Monroe said. “You can accomplish a lot.”


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