Madison Square next for CIA

June 24, 2009
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Now that commissioners have appointed members to Grand Rapids’ very first Corridor Improvement Authority in the Uptown business district, they will soon decide whether to authorize the city’s second.

A request from Madison Square, another southeast side commercial sector, is expected to be in front of commissioners next month. Thirty stakeholders have done the fieldwork required by the city to get the Madison Square CIA application to this point.

If commissioners ratify the request, then the Commercial Improvement District can be established and property owners can capture a portion of the property tax that originates from improvements they make.

“This should go to the City Commission at its first meeting in July,” said Kimberly Van Dyk, executive director of Neighborhood Ventures, a nonprofit community and economic development organization that coordinated the CIA pushes for Madison Square and Uptown.

But before anyone can capture taxes, the city has to fill Madison Square’s CIA board, and those members have to write the district’s development and tax-increment financing plans. It is likely that much of both plans are contained in the district’s designation application as the city requires an applicant to include those factors in a request.

“They have a really active group of people. In addition to that, they have had even more public participation and support than Uptown had. So I think that speaks for itself,” said Van Dyk.

“They’ve been working on this for a year now, so they’re very serious about it. They have an outline ready of what they will be doing,” she added.

The corridor Madison Square wants designated is much smaller than Uptown’s, which tops 1 million square feet and covers four neighborhood business districts. The total square footage in Madison Square is almost 178,000 across 150 properties. The commercial district is 142,000 square feet.

The corridor boundary would run along Hall Street from Jefferson to Eastern avenues and along Madison Avenue from Umatilla to Garden streets.

“The center of this area is the intersection of Madison Avenue and Hall Street, which is considered the heart of the business district. The proposed projects outlined in this request would all take place within the boundaries of the proposed development area,” said Kara Wood, city economic development director.

Van Dyk said a few other business districts are tossing around the idea of applying for a CIA, but none are close yet to actually making the application.

Mayor George Heartwell appointed 2nd Ward City Commissioner Rosalynn Bliss to a four-year term on the Uptown CIA board last week. Joining Bliss on the board will be Baird Hawkins, Amy Ruis, Kristine Szurna Bersceh, Michael Dykhouse, Tami Vandenberg, Rick Powell, Guy Bazzani and Joana Hively.

After Van Dyk spoke with the Business Journal, she left her position at Neighborhood Ventures, an organization she created, to manage downtown development in Wilson, N.C., a city of 50,000 about 35 miles east of Raleigh.

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