Several business owners worry about small businesses in Business Improvement District
The Chattanooga City Council approved on its first reading the controversial Business Improvement District Tuesday night.
If passed on a second and final reading next week, it would impose additional fees on downtown businesses.
Business owners against the BID say the additional fees will make it tougher on them financially.
Keeli Crewe owns the Area 61 art gallery on Broad Street. She says if this passes the second reading next week, it will affect everyone in downtown.
“And when they pass it to us and our businesses, prices increase, hotel rates will increase, and residential apartments will increase. Your favorite restaurants in the district, your favorite attractions,” Crewe said.
She and several other business owners at Tuesdays meeting say the BID is not the “Chattanooga way."
"It will affect your culture of your city when you lose the things that are clearly your own culture and are things that are local to you,” Crewe said.
Elea Wright works in the district at Elea Blake Cosmetics. She says the BID would make it harder for small businesses to succeed in Chattanooga.
"For more established businesses, it might not be as much as an issue, but especially for new businesses, start-ups are trying to come here and we are increasing that barrier of entry. So we are going to end up with more like a generic instead of like a unique, small business downtown, which really does bring the people to Chattanooga,” Wright said.
Property owners would pay 9 cents per square footage, plus $4.95 per linear foot of street front. Those who rent in the district would pay an additional $150 per unit.
In return they would receive additional services like landscaping, street cleaning, and security.
Crewe says other items on the BID aren't in everyone's best interest.
"But not everyone in the city is, so give us a chance to donate to our districts through an agency that's already set up and could easily be modeled just a little bit,” Crewe said.
The council will have a public hearing next week before the final vote.
They will allow business and property owners on both sides to discuss why they are for or against the bid.