The Downtown Wilkes-Barre
Business Improvement District (DWBBID):
Creating a Better Downtown Together
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 by its ratepayers in 2012, and again in 2018. The DWBBID’s current authorization extends through the end of 2028.
A Business Improvement District (BID) is a legal mechanism that allows property owners and businesses to pool resources to effectively address common concerns within a specific service area. Because a BID is based upon a multi-year commitment, it provides sustainable funding so development plans, budgets, and business strategies can be made on a multi-year basis. The cost per business is low because all benefiting properties pay their fair share.
The Diamond City Partnership 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.
The results of this work have added significant value to Downtown Wilkes-Barre. Since the DWBBID started operations in 2007:
• Downtown Wilkes-Barre has seen a net gain of 47 occupied storefronts.
• Downtown Wilkes-Barre has seen a net gain of 205 new market-rate housing units.
• There has been more than $160 million of private investment in Downtown Wilkes-Barre.
• Two-thirds of respondents to DCP’s 2018 Perception & Use Survey – including 71% of downtown workers and 94% of downtown business owners – believe that Downtown Wilkes-Barre is “headed in the right direction.”
• 75% of respondents to DCP’s 2018 Perception & Use Survey said that Downtown is a good place to visit for entertainment, music, arts, and culture.
• Half of the respondents to DCP’s 2018 Perception & Use Survey rated Downtown as “much cleaner” than other Wilkes-Barre neighborhoods.
• 70% of the respondents to the same survey said that Downtown has “much less graffiti” than other Wilkes-Barre neighborhoods.
DWBBID Assessment Calculations
The annual DWBBID charge is based on Commonwealth of Pennsylvania law and calculated by a formula that applies to all ratepaying properties, without regard to abatements or other tax exemptions provided by the City of Wilkes-Barre. The following explains the method used to calculate the assessed charges for ratepaying properties:
Here’s an example, based on a property with an assessed value of $200,000 and a total annual DWBBID billing amount of $220,000:
($200,000/138,336,300) x $220,000 = $318
Prior to 2019, DWBBID charges had been based on older assessment values. In order to smooth the transition to the new fee structure, one-third of the difference between each property’s old and new fee calculations will be applied each successive year during a three-year period, starting in 2019.
To facilitate this for billing purposes, an adjusted DWBBID assessment has been calculated for each ratepaying property, as follows:
(adjusted 2019 fee for a given property/total annual billing amount) x (total assessed value of all ratepaying properties within the DWBBID)
If you have any questions about the assessment methodology or any other aspect of DWBBID or its operations, please contact DCP’s Executive Director, Larry Newman, here.