Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Improvement District:
2015 Annual Report
SECTION 1: INTRODUCTION
The 2015 Annual Report is provided to Wilkes-Barre City Council, stakeholders of downtown Wilkes-Barre, and the public pursuant to Section 9, (1) and (2), of the Pennsylvania Neighborhood Improvement District Act of 2000.
On August 1, 2007, the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Improvement District (DWBBID) began providing supplementary place management, place marketing, and economic development services to the properties and businesses of Downtown Wilkes-Barre.
Following a year of discussion and planning, the DWBBID was created by City Council ordinance following the requirements of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Neighborhood Improvement District Act. The DWBBID was renewed in 2012, and its current authorization extends through the end of 2018.
The Diamond City Partnership, a 501C3 nonprofit corporation, manages the DWBBID, which serves an area extending from Academy Street in the south to North Street in the north. Downtown Wilkes-Barre’s property and business owners are all partners in the DWBBID: their collective investment makes it possible for the DWBBID to provide these services, and to create a cleaner, safer, and more vibrant Downtown.
Each year, an independent accountant’s review report is prepared, provided to the City Clerk and the PA Department of Community & Economic Development, and made publicly available. See the full 2015 document, performed by Lawrence Cable & Company, LLP, Certified Public Accountants.
SECTION 2: CHANGES IN BENEFITED PROPERTIES
The DWBBID is funded through an assessment on benefited properties within the Business Improvement District, together with voluntary multiyear contributions from tax-exempt property owners.
In 2015, there were a total of 274 DWBBID Benefited Properties. This represents a decrease of five properties from 2014. Four benefited properties, at 125-147 South Main Street, were acquired by Wilkes University, while King’s College acquired another benefited property at 65-67 West Jackson Street.
SECTION 3: DOWNTOWN ACTION PLAN
The DWBBID’s activities are aligned with Wilkes-Barre’s new Downtown Action Plan. Community feedback from DCP’s 2014 Perception & Use Survey and workshops were used to create this framework guiding the next phase of downtown revitalization. The Plan, whose creation was led by DCP, is built around six “big goals:”
Downtown Wilkes-Barre will be a safe, clean, and attractive place to live, work, shop, and visit.
Downtown Wilkes-Barre will be the region’s college neighborhood.
Downtown Wilkes-Barre will be the region’s “walk-to-everything” neighborhood of choice.
Downtown Wilkes-Barre will be the region’s “Innovation District”: its hub for business, startup activity, and entrepreneurship.
Downtown Wilkes-Barre’s historic architecture, riverfront, colleges, and walkability will be the cornerstones of its enhanced visitor experience.
Downtown Wilkes-Barre will be a regional center of arts, culture, dining, and entertainment.
SECTION 4: 2015 OUTPUTS AND OUTCOMES
PLACE DEVELOPMENT: 2015
Number of downtown storefront businesses opening: 9 in 2015 (vs. 10 in 2014)
Number of downtown storefront businesses closing: 4 in 2015 (vs. 7 in 2014)
Net increase in occupied downtown storefronts: 5 in 2015 (vs. 3 in 2014)
The new Downtown Action Plan served as the basis for a collaborative submission to Frontier Communication’s “America’s Best Communities” competition, for which DCP partnered with the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber and the City of Wilkes-Barre. As a result, Wilkes-Barre was selected as a semifinalist in the ABC competition, winning $50,000 to refine the plan and proceed to the quarterfinalist round.
PLACE MANAGEMENT: 2015
DCP’s three-person Clean Team, funded by the DWBBID, continued its work during 2015. The Clean Team, working 6 days/week, is responsible for supplemental sidewalk sweeping and trash removal; graffiti removal, snow and ice removal from ADA sidewalk ramps; and maintenance of seasonal hanging flower baskets and other beautification efforts throughout Downtown Wilkes-Barre. The Clean Team is responsible for approximately 15 miles of public sidewalks and rights-of-way.
The DWBBID funded more than 400 hours of Downtown Patrols by Wilkes-Barre police officers working weekend special details during 2015.
DCP dramatically expanded its hanging floral basket program for lampposts throughout Downtown Wilkes-Barre’s commercial core. This year, the number of baskets expanded from 48 baskets around the perimeter of Public Square to 180 baskets, extending along the first blocks of each street radiating from the Square.
DCP worked with the City of Wilkes-Barre to secure a $200,000 Local Share Account grant, which will be used to undertake a phased plan to rehabilitate Public Square.
DCP collaborated with the City of Wilkes-Barre on the “Renew Public Square” project, funded through a City grant from the National Resource Network, which developed operational, design, and management strategies for the rehabilitation of Public Square.
DCP convened a social services working group comprised of leaders in social services, law enforcement, local government, and the business community to improve coordination, delivery, and location of social services to “at-risk” populations within Downtown Wilkes-Barre.
PLACE MARKETING: 2015
During 2015, DCP staff was quoted in 10 different newspaper articles and TV segments dealing with aspects of Downtown Wilkes-Barre’s revitalization.
DCP’s weekly E-blast, “This Week in Downtown Wilkes-Barre,” is in its third year, boasting more than 1,000 direct subscribers, with substantial recirculation via traditional and social media channels.
For the third consecutive year, DCP served as Downtown Wilkes-Barre’s “Neighborhood Champion” for “Small Business Saturday,” coordinating this annual event boosting patronage of Downtown’s small independent businesses through promotional programs and activities that were marketed throughout the region.
SECTION 5: SPONSORSHIPS
Thank you to our 2015 floral hanging basket sponsors:
SECTION 6: BOARD and COMMITTEES
2015 Board of Directors:
Chairman – Elizabeth Graham, Riggs Asset Management
Vice-Chairman – Joel Zitofsky, Design & Development Company
Secretary – James Casey, Casey House
Treasurer – Bruce Sickel, Blue Cross of NEPA
Dr. Paul Adams, Wilkes University
Rich Adams, Around Town Bicycles
Charles Barber, The Luzerne Foundation
William Barrett, City of Wilkes-Barre
Greg Barrouk, City of Wilkes-Barre
Robert Bee, WBRE-TV/Nexstar Broadasting
Will Beekman, F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts
Ruth Borland, Esq., Borland & Borland
Rebecca Brominski, Luzerne County Community College
Tony Brooks, Bright Life Travel
Jerome Campbell, Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic
Dr. Charles Davis, Penn State Wilkes-Barre
Donna Farrell, Citizens Bank
Gus Genetti, Genetti Best Western Hotel & Conference Center
Harry Haas, Luzerne County Council
Frank Hoegen, Esq., Hoegen & Associates
Larry Holeva, Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice
Angel Jirau, Angel Jirau Consulting Company
Bill Jones, United Way of Wyoming Valley
Rabbi Larry Kaplan, Temple Israel
John Maday, Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association
John Malta, GUARD Insurance Company
Ken Marquis, Marquis Art & Frame
Joe Matteo, The Frederick Stegmaier Mansion
Jack McNulty, Office of State Representative Eddie Day Pashinski
Robert Morgan, Office of Congressman Matt Cartwright
Robert Neher, Luzerne Bank
Doug Olsson, The Times Leader
Teri Ooms, The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development
Patricia Parks, Downtown Residents Association
Patrice Persico, King’s College
Alex Rogers, CityVest
Conrad Schintz, Geisinger Health Systems
Chris Sheperis, Office of Pennsylvania State Senator John T. Yudichak
Wico Van Genderen, Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business & Industry
Lawrence M. Newman, Executive Director
– – –
Please direct questions or comments to:
Larry Newman, Executive Director
Diamond City Partnership
4 Public Square
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701