Chattanooga's Business Improvement District board members named
The list of names in charge of overseeing the Business Improvement District in Chattanooga has been released.
The board is made up of 15 members, including 12 property owners and tenants. The remaining three consists of state and city officials, which is required by state law and the city’s ordinance.
The following members are on the board:
- Erskine Oglesby - District 7 City Council
- Todd Gardenhire - Tennessee Senate, District 10
- Robin Smith - Tennessee House of Representatives, District 26
- Matt McGauley - Fidelity Trust Company
- Charles Perry - Loveman's
- Darian Scott - Chattanooga Area Chamber of
- Ember Souchet - DeFoor Brothers Development
- Gordon Stalans - Tennessee Aquarium
- Pierre Dabit - Giorgio's
- Kelly Fitzgerald - Society of Work
- Steve Hunt - Berry & Hunt
- Walter Johnson - Plaza Foods
- Travis Lytle – SmartBank
- Donald O'Connor - River Pier Landing
- Lisa Maragnano - CARTA
The board will oversee the special district, which aims to provide improvements to Central Chattanooga with roughly $1 million. That amount is collected in special assessment fees from property owners annually. They will pay 9 cents per square foot, of either the lot or building size, whichever is greater, plus $4.95 per linear foot of lot frontage. However, residential property owners with townhouses or condominiums would pay a flat annual fee of $150 per unit.
Keeli Crewe, owner of Area 61 Gallery, says she and many other owners did not budget for that fee.
“Just based on my space, my fee could be around $1,000,” she said. “If you know I can't afford this district when my five years is up then I'll close down and that's 30 local artists who don't have a place to show their work anymore.”
Crewe says she does not believe the board has ill intentions.
“I know some of the people on the board and I respect them and I think they will do a very good job and I think they will be fiscally responsible,” Crewe said.
However, she has concerns in regard to some of the members association with non-profit organizations.
“As a non-profit in the city center district or the central downtown business improvement district you can opt of paying this fee and this annual assessment,” Crewe said. “If you're not going to be having to pay into it then I don't really know why you would have a seat on the board, but I don't know. They may not opt out after all.”
Crewe says a group of her peers is considering forming a group to help better communication among downtown business owners and tenants.
“We're all hoping it goes in a great direction,” she said.
The board’s first meeting is set for October 23 at 2 p.m. in the River City Company conference room.