The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce announced the launch of a campaign to create a new business improvement area around the neighborhood during Wednesday’s State of the Hill event.
The BIA is expected to raise $1.6 million annually through assessments based on property size and value.
Those funds would be used for BIA operations, providing services that include recruiting new businesses, marketing, hosting promotional events, attracting visitors, expanded street cleanings and improving public safety.
A Capitol Hill BIA will require the approval of property owners representing 60 percent of the assessed value of the area. Petitions will go out this week to 650 property owners representing 850 parcels within the proposed BIA Boundary, which includes the current Broadway BIA and business corridors on 12th Avenue, 15th Avenue, 19th Avenue East, Melrose, Olive/Denny and Pike/Pine.
Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce executive director Sierra Hansen announced plans for an expanded BIA during her first State of the Hill address last year.
Hunters Capital CEO Michael Malone was charged with announcing the Capitol Hill BIA launch during the State of the Hill, and that 30 percent of the needed petition signatures have already been collected. His company has the second largest amount of property holdings within the new BIA boundary, with Seattle Central College being the first. Malone said Seattle Central was quick to sign on. Seattle University, which has properties around the Melrose boundary, is also joining the effort.
Most small property owners are expected to contribute $2,000 to $5,000 to the Capitol Hill BIA in annual assessments. Malone said Hunters Capital will likely be paying more than $40,000 a year.
“People say don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” Malone told the Capitol Hill Times. “I put them in the basket because I believe in the basket, so you can focus your energies and do things like this (State of the Hill).”
The chamber reports First Covenant Church, Dunn & Hobbes and 300EPine St as among other early supporters of the BIA.
Hansen said another significant property owner the chamber is working to sign on to the Capitol Hill BIA is Group Health, which joined the chamber last year and was a Hilloween 2016 sponsor. Group Health is expected to sign, she said, but was delayed during its acquisition by Kaiser Permanente.
An expanded BIA in Capitol Hill was recommended in the Capitol Hill 2020 plan, which was developed by businesses, residents, nonprofits and other groups, to guide neighborhood growth and development.
Hansen said the BIA will boost property values over time.
The Broadway BIA was formed in 1986, and is the second oldest business improvement area in Seattle. It expanded to businesses between Pike and Roy Street East in 2014. It is governed by a ratepayers advisory board, which meets monthly and contracts with the chamber for daily operations.
Chamber board chair Jeffrey Pelletier told the Capitol Hill Times a property-based BIA will be easier than one that relies on accurate sales revenue reporting by Capitol Hill businesses.
The Capitol Hill BIA will also be governed by a ratepayers advisory board, with the chamber continuing to serve as operator for its day-to-day functions.
Once the required petition signatures are collected, they will be submitted to the city and Mayor Ed Murray for approval. The council is required to hold a public hearing before considering the proposed ordinance.
State of the Hill
Chamber vice chair Donte Parks, who is vice president of culture at digital products studio Substantial at Pine and Broadway, provided highlights from the past year, including 21 new chamber members and more than 1,000 social media posts promoting local businesses.
Strides were also made in 2016 to work on safety issues, such as the new bag program that replaced many dumpsters in the neighborhood, and collaborating with social service and faith-based organizations to tackle substance abuse issues in Capitol Hill.
The mayor offered remarks about his Capitol Hill neighborhood during the State of the Hill, having moved here 33 years ago.
“I wanted to move someplace safe,” Murray said. “I wanted to be out. I wanted to be someplace vibrant, and that neighborhood in the Northwest was Capitol Hill.”
The mayor also offered somber reflection on the current state of the nation, as Seattle continues to fight policies and orders coming down from President Donald Trump that threaten the city’s immigrant, Muslim, homeless and LGBTQ communities, to name a few.
“I know it’s a tough time in our history, but many of you have been here before,” Murray said.
“When the board started talking about it, it was an impossible choice,” Hansen said of this year’s Spirit Award selection, “and I said there is precedent for us doing dual awards as in the past.”
This year’s Spirit Award recipients were Capitol Hill developer Liz Dunn, whose portfolio includes the conservation and redevelopment of Chophouse Row, and Jill Cronauer, chief operating officer and designated broker at Hunters Capital and past chamber board president.
Substantial founder Jeremy Borden made the announcement, passing the first award to Cronauer, his landlord.
“So, so surprising, and a little devious, actually,” Cronauer said, shooting a side-glance at Hansen and Malone.
“I think I’m feeling a little bit like Jill,” said Dunn, who brought her dog to the pet-friendly Optimism Brewing venue. “If someone had told me, I might have brushed my hair and changed my clothes.”
Dunn said she’s thankful to live and work in Capitol Hill.
“I could not be more proud of my neighborhood at this moment in time,” she said. “because it is literally the most inclusive neighborhood in the most inclusive city in the country.”
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