By Matt Petrillo
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —A new nonprofit in the works in a trendy Philadelphia neighborhood is seeking to attract new businesses, but it comes at a cost.
It’s called the Northern Liberties Business Improvement District, and right now, it’s in its final stages. If approved by City Hall, it would be funded by collecting a new fee from commercial property owners.
“Commercial redevelopment in Northern Liberties has lagged behind the residential,” said Matt Ruben of the Philadelphia Neighbors Association. He’s trying to start the Northern Liberties BID to make the area “an experience.”
The nonprofit would increase weekly trash pickups, make upgrades to buildings and attract more shops to area. Many business owners are on board, like William Reed of the Standard Tap.
“When you look at the benefits of get from it, it’s safety, street cleaning. All these,” he said.
But not everyone wants to pay for it, like Lois O’Neil, the owner of the Keystone Industrial Sewing Machine Co., who thinks she pays enough in taxes.
“Right now it’s very expensive,” she said.
The Northern Liberties BID would be funded by a tax levied on commercial properties. The average fee would amount to roughly $750 a year. Homeowners would be exempt.
But councilperson Mark Squilla, who would represent part of the district, said an improved neighborhood should also mean more traffic for business.
People are looking at it as an investment more so than a cost to doing business,” he said.
On Monday, a public hearing was held about the Northern Liberties Business Improvement District. The district is set to go into effect in June unless just over 30 percent of property owners write to city hall, saying they do not want the district.