Downtown Inc, a nonprofit that promotes downtown York City with money raised through private fundraising and a special tax assessment, is looking to expand its boundaries.
If the proposal goes forward, Downtown Inc would gain responsibility for promoting Sovereign Bank Stadium, the yet-to-be developed Northwest Triangle and an additional block of South George Street that includes Cobblestone's restaurant.
Within the next few weeks, the group will send its business plan and budget to its current and potential constituents, said Sonia Huntzinger, Downtown Inc's executive director.
Downtown Inc will hold a public hearing later this year and request approval from the York City Council, hopefully by December, Huntzinger said. After receiving the proposal, current and potential constituents have a 45-day window to express concerns and ask questions before the public hearing.
The added territory would mean Downtown Inc's assessment area matches the Central Business District, as
defined by the city's newly overhauled zoning ordinance.
Talks about modifying Downtown Inc's territory have been occurring since the zoning changes were made in 2011, Huntzinger said.
"We just think it makes all the sense in the world to align our boundaries with the CBD boundaries," she said.
The cost: Owners of commercial and residential-rental properties within Downtown Inc's assessment area pay an additional 1 mill in property tax for the group's services, which includes marketing, beautification, event promotion and street sweeping. Businesses added to the map would also be included in First Friday promotions.
For the owner of a property assessed at $50,000, the tax amounts to a $50 annual bill, Huntzinger said.
The new map would add about $8,000 or $9,000 to Downtown Inc's annual budget of about $310,000, she said.
"We're not being motivated by the money," Huntzinger said.
Tax assessment accounts for about $110,000 of Downtown Inc's budget. The rest comes from private fundraising and grants, Huntzinger said.
The proposal would mean no changes for current constituents.
Downtown Inc is required to submit its business plan and budget for approval from the York City Council every five years, Huntzinger said. That remains on schedule for 2015, she said.
The triangle: Adding the Northwest Triangle -- an area targeted years ago for economic development and revitalization -- to Downtown Inc's assessment area will allow staff to guide development, Huntzinger said.
"As the development starts to happen there, we want to make sure it's smart, strategic and visionary," she said.
The new map would also include a section of the Codorus Creek, another geographic asset long targeted for enhancement. Huntzinger said Downtown Inc would absorb that project as well as the ability to collaborate on plans to extend the York County Heritage Rail Trail through the city.
Huntzinger, who became executive director in 2009, said Downtown Inc -- created in 2006 through the merger of Main Street York and the York Business Improvement District Authority -- is making progress in York.
For example, Downtown Inc and its partners recently achieved an 80 percent first-floor occupancy rate of commercial properties within the Business Improvement District, Huntzinger said.
This summer, the group got a glowing report from a similar group in Hagerstown, Md., who made a "first impressions" visit to York and submitted its findings to Downtown Inc.
"We need to recognize every once in a while, we're doing pretty well," Huntzinger said.
-- Erin James may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.