Comstock's magazine 0818 - August 2018 - Page 70

PBID model is unique because it unites competing property owners to help en- hance a business cluster. These special districts, primarily based off of city zoning, go by many names (business improvement districts, community benefit districts, etc.), but they function more or less the same: pooling private resources to gener- ate more revenue. “We started off with a vision that has worked,” says Michael Ault, executive di- rector of the Downtown Sacramento Part- nership, California’s first PBID, established in 1995. “This is what we had hoped for in the way of an economic voice.” In the past two decades, revitalization efforts downtown — from homeless out- Our Street Night Market launched in June on R Street in Midtown Sacramento. reach and Concerts in the Park to Down- town Sacramento Partnership’s small busi- ness contest, Calling All Dreamers — have sparked a regional PBID craze, with new districts launching everywhere from Florin Road in south Sacramento to Midtown and Roseville and beyond. Not just a tool for property owners, this collaborative trend has also triggered the formation of financ- ing districts in niche industries, such as 70 | August 2018 food, wine and tourism, each of which has been helping redefine the region’s image. “We’ve taken a much more collabo- rative approach to define what this city is and what we represent to the rest of the country,” says Mike Testa, head of the Vis- it Sacramento tourism agency. “We’re not just a government town, not a boring state capital. We’re crafting an authentic identi- ty that’s making noise across the country.” Visit Sacramento (previously the Sac- ramento Convention and Visitors Bureau) owes more than 50 percent of its budget- ed marketing muscle to a tourism improve- ment district set up by hotel operators in 2001, Testa says. Without those extra dol- lars, he adds, the agency couldn’t afford to send staff to 30-plus annual trade shows, grow the organization’s abilities to host events like the Farm-to-Fork Festival and the Tower Bridge Dinner, and effectively lure leisure travelers to the city tradition- ally seen as a cowtown. While Visit Sacramento focuses on outreach, various PBIDs help get things done in-house. Depending on the location, each district has its own unique vibe. Take, for example, the R Street Partnership and Greater Broadway District with its art- ist lofts, block parties and the new Our Street Night Market, which launched in June showcasing Sacramento’s local food scene. “It’s very artsy, edgy, organic,” says Michelle Smira, the Greater Broadway District’s executive director. “If it is un- sightly or people don’t feel comfortable, they won’t keep coming back, especially at night when we do most of our events.” About two miles north, The River Dis- trict PBID, established in 1999, once incor- porated a section of warehouses to sup- port commerce in the old rail yards. Now, the area is transforming into a mixed-use urban community with an eclectic mix of residential and commercial land uses, topped off with a cool historic district and riverfront views, says The River District Executive Director Patty Kleinknecht. But PBIDs can’t pop up out of the blue. They first need enough support from prop- erty owners, who may not feel like forking ECONOMIC GROWTH