CONCORD -- An effort to create a district in which downtown property owners would tax themselves to raise money for improvements downtown has lost steam, according to the city.
The Property Based Improvement District, essentially a fund paid into and controlled by property owners, was pitched as a way to pay for programs to attract businesses, clean up the streets and beef up security downtown in the wake of the elimination of redevelopment agencies, which once paid for such things.
But after months of discussions, a number of property owners rejected the idea and the city is abandoning the project for now.
"We didn't get the level of support we were comfortable with," said Ed Andrews, whose family owns all the properties on the stretch of Mt. Diablo Street from Willow Pass Road to Salvio Street as well as the nearby Chevron station.
The city, along with Andrews and Jeff Woods of Salvio Pacheco Square, had selected an 18-block area to comprise the district. It was bordered by Pacheco Street to the north, East Street to the east, the BART station to the south and Galindo Street to the west, and included an estimated budget of $381,347 to pay for cleaning services, a safety ambassador, marketing and branding, repairs, special events and an executive director, among other things.
A 2008 feasibility study by the city found support for the district among property owners, but the downturn in the economy has changed some minds, according to Andrews and the city. Meetings with property owners in 2012 found that many did not think the timing was right, said Andrews, who hopes the idea will return.
"I'd like to think at some point it will happen," said Andrews.
Meanwhile, the city is moving forward with a tourism-based improvement district to include local hotels, according to John Montagh, economic development and housing manager with the city. In addition, the city's car dealerships will soon unveil new signage for an "auto district," according to Montagh.
David DeBolt covers Concord and Clayton. Contact him at 925-943-8048. Follow him at Twitter.com/daviddebolt.