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27th Street BID looks to expand south

Group looks to empower businesses, improve corridor

Jan. 29, 2013

Franklin - Members of the Forward Franklin Economic Development Committee on Monday said they could support a proposal to extend the 27th Street business improvement district through the city.

The current Historic Highway 41 BID - covering a four-mile corridor from Oklahoma to College avenues through Greenfield and Milwaukee - recently proposed an extension all the way south to the county line.

The BID is funded with fees collected from member property owners, which approve the fee themselves. The money is collected by the municipalities and then given to the BID to use for a variety of business-related improvements, such as erecting and maintaining way-finding signs, light poles and medians. Funds also are used to develop promotional programs such as special sales and informational media to be used by the group of businesses.

Forward Franklin Committee Chairmain Craig Haskins said the marketing panel may be in a position to assist once more is known about business owners' reactions to the BID proposal. At least 60 percent of the businesses would need to accept the proposal for the extension to happen.

"This is still in its infancy, but the idea is to maintain some key elements of the street," Haskins said. "It takes a burden off of the municipalities."

The Department of Transportation will create a number of streetscaping elements as it reconstructs and widens 27th Street beginning in 2017. Those will need ongoing maintenance.

Historic Highway 41 BID Executive Director Julio Maldonado said his organization would like to begin collecting the annual fees - ranging from $500 to $1,500 based on property size - by 2014.

"Businesses have been supportive of the BID," Maldonado said. "We would like to see Forward Franklin and the city support this as we begin to meet with property owners."

Group approach

Maldonado said the BID also offers grants ranging from $100 to $2,500 to fund signage and façade improvements at individual businesses.

"It has been my experience, and studies show, that businesses are attracted to districts because they are part of a group that is promoting itself," he said.

That business approach is what attracts Mark Hansen, general manager of Staybridge Suites, 9575 S. 27th St. He said he has volunteered to be on an exploratory committee that will include representatives from five businesses in Franklin as well as five in Oak Creek.

"Knowing that businesses have a collective voice and that they will be part of a bigger advertising and promotion program will draw them to the district," Hansen said. "It's a powerful tool.

"We still have a lot of work to do to see if this will work, but there are a lot of positive aspects to it," he said.

Benefit beyond 27th Street

Forward Franklin members noted that an extension of the 27th Street BID could be a catalyst for other business districts.

"I think this approach could be good for other parts of the city," Mike Soto said.

John Michlig agreed.

"We have a business district near The Rock on 76th Street that is really cut off from that area, said Michlig, pointing out The Rock is beginning to develop as a regional sports center that will draw people to Franklin. "I would think that those businesses can really gain from seeing how this works."

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