Morning Headlines: The Fight Is on In Washington Square West

“Whose idea was this? they wanted to know.”

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The idea of a Neighborhood Improvement District (NID) in the area from Locust to South and Broad to Seventh streets is proving controversial, which became obvious at this week’s community-wide meeting about it. From PlanPhilly:

Around 100 people showed up, and a majority—or at least the loudest—cried foul.


Whose idea was this? they wanted to know. What problems even need to be solved? How much are we being asked to pay?

The latter question is a reasonable one, as the 2,800 property owners within this NID would pay an assessment, based on a property tax bill, for whatever changes are made to their community. The group that tried to answer the question -- the NID steering committee -- was composed of members of the Washington Square Civic Association and other neighborhood groups, who presented the NID idea to see if there was even enough traction to pursue it.

At this early stage, they don't yet have definite numbers, though they did present some estimates. From PlanPhilly:

A typical home in the area is worth around $400,000, which means a typical property tax bill is roughly $4,950 each year...

Assuming a 2 percent assessment and an 80 percent collection rate, Lyons said, the NID could generate $264,000 per year by collecting around $100 a year from the typical property owner...

(Emphasis ours)

The objections to the NID came down to one question: why? Even one member of the NID steering committee conceded she wasn't sure what the money would be used for.

Philadelphia currently has no NIDs, probably because of the way the voting for them is structured, and it sounds like this one also has little chance of moving forward.

Tough road ahead for improvement district in Washington Square West [PlanPhilly]

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