Community leaders are advocating for a business improvement district that would have the South 9th Street Italian Market as its hub.
By Joseph Myers
In 2016, a proposal to create a business improvement district (BID) for the South 9th Street Italian Market failed to acquire the mandatory two-thirds vote to move forward. A renewed effort to establish the “South Philly Market Improvement District” has supportive community leaders hoping that sufficient advocacy will help advance a project eight years in the making. You can hear more about the plans at this evening’s Passyunk Square Civic Association general meeting.
Passyunk Square Civic president Sarah Anton considers the market “a gem.” But, she stresses, “There’s still plenty of work to be done. The whole corridor…including areas just beyond it, deserve intensive attention.”
The proposed BID would stretch from Eighth to 10th streets and from Federal to Fitzwater streets. Parts of Washington Avenue and Christian Street would also be included. Under the plan, commercial properties in this area would pay an additional property assessment. BIDs receive taxing authority from the State and must garner approval from City Council. The proposed operating expenses for the service area total $281,636.
If approved, those revenues would help the BID tackle boarded-up and graffiti-covered spaces, fences, vacant storefronts, and old or damaged vendor stands. Area residents would benefit from the BID’s greening and beautification efforts, lighting and infrastructure work, safety improvements, and litter removal. The BID would serve as a complement to the one established on East Passyunk Avenue in 2002.
Anton explained that the BID’s management team, outreach staff, and legal/professional services would help improve the entire service area: “Commercial landlords could attract and retain more clients, businesses could have improved prospects for success, and residents and visitors could be a more integral part of the community.”
Eugene Desyatnik, president of the Bella Vista Neighbors Association (BVNA), cautions that the proposed BID may not meet with universal approval. “When businesses hear that they can receive help, yet will need to contribute to that via assessments, it’s not unusual for them to wonder if anything is really wrong with staying on the present course.”
The BVNA hosted a meeting on October 22, in conjunction with the South Philly Market District organizers. That meeting served as a kickstarter to secure the votes needed in City Council, specifically 1st District Councilman Mark Squilla, to advance the plan.
The BIDs’ proponents feel confident the organization, if approved, will help keep the Market competitive with other area commercial enterprises and attract new tenants and visitors. “Along with valuing the past,” Desyatnik said, “we have to make apparent what we can do to improve the present and the future” of the market.
Anton concluded, “I’m eager to keep pushing for this BID. Simply put, the community needs and deserves it.”
Read the proposal details here.