Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Improvement District:
2016 Annual Report
SECTION 1: INTRODUCTION
The 2016 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 2016 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 2016, there were a total of 272 DWBBID Benefited Properties.
SECTION 3: DOWNTOWN ACTION PLAN
The DWBBID’s activities align with Wilkes-Barre’s current Downtown Action Plan. The Plan, whose creation was led by DCP in 2015, is built around six “big goals:”
1. Downtown Wilkes-Barre will be a safe, clean, and attractive place to live, work, shop, and visit.
2. Downtown Wilkes-Barre will be the region’s college neighborhood.
3. Downtown Wilkes-Barre will be the region’s “walk-to-everything” neighborhood of choice.
4. Downtown Wilkes-Barre will be the region’s “Innovation District”: its hub for business, startup activity, and entrepreneurship.
5. Downtown Wilkes-Barre’s historic architecture, riverfront, colleges, and walkability will be the cornerstones of its enhanced visitor experience.
6. Downtown Wilkes-Barre will be a regional center of arts, culture, dining, and entertainment.
SECTION 4: 2016 OUTPUTS AND OUTCOMES
PLACE DEVELOPMENT: 2016
• Number of downtown storefront businesses opening: 7 in 2016 (vs. 9 in 2015)
• Number of downtown storefront businesses closing: 5 in 2016 (vs. 4 in 2015)
• Net increase in occupied downtown storefronts: 2 in 2016 (vs. 5 in 2015)
• 22 new market-rate residential units were added to Downtown in 2016 (all by developers D&D Reality): 8 units at Hampton Park West on East Northampton Street, and 16 units in Allegany Lofts on the second block of South Main Street (which were fully leased prior to completion). In 2017, the conversion of the upper floors of the PNC Bank building, which has started construction, will add another 40 units to the downtown inventory.
• Governor Tom Wolf visited Downtown Wilkes-Barre on October 13 to announce a $2 million RACP grant for the Innovation Squared initiative, which focuses on the growth of Downtown’s innovation district around Public Square. One component is the reuse of the former First National Bank Building, which has been vacant since 1978. The Governor also toured the offices of Pepperjam and the Barnes & Noble King’s/Wilkes Bookstore with DCP’s executive director.
• The innovation district’s new hub – the Wilkes-Barre Chamber’s THINK Center – opened in April, providing co-working and conference space and a 50-seat multimedia theater.
• 2016 also brought the launch of “Wilkes-Barre Connect” – a collaboration of local service providers (including DCP) to ensure that all startup and existing businesses have access to the resources, services, and facilities they need to grow right here. WB Connect will provide a framework for better collaboration between local business service providers, creating a “one stop shop” that can assist local enterprises in each stages of business growth.
• The DWBBID Façade Grant Program provided a matching grant to D&D Realty for exterior work at the Alleghany Building, at 98 South Main Street, which D&D has converted into loft apartments.
PLACE MANAGEMENT: 2016
• DCP’s Clean Team accomplished the following in 2016:
o Removed 5,093 pounds of trash
o Removed 82 graffiti tags
o Performed 156 weed-abatement deployments
o Removed 132 bills and stickers
o Removed 1,242 gum spots
o Removed 45 bags of leaves
o Watered hanging baskets 10,090 times
o Power washed 14 different block faces
o Performed 49 pet waste and 3 human waste cleanups
o Provided directions to 181 motorists and 28 pedestrians
• The DWBBID funded 430 hours of Downtown Patrols by Wilkes-Barre police officers working weekend special details during 2016.
• For the third consecutive year, DCP purchased and maintained 186 hanging floral baskets on lampposts throughout Downtown Wilkes-Barre’s commercial core.
• 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.
PLACE MARKETING: 2016
• During 2016, DCP staff was quoted in 21 different newspaper articles and TV segments dealing with aspects of Downtown Wilkes-Barre’s revitalization.
• DCP’s social media presence was anchored by its weekly E-blast, “This Week in Downtown Wilkes-Barre,” which is in its fourth year and boasts more than 1,000 direct subscribers, with substantial recirculation via traditional and social media channels. DCP also uses Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to promote Downtown Wilkes-Barre.
• DCP again served as the 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.
• DCP assisted the City of Wilkes-Barre with the implementation of two new downtown special events: a Public Square Trick-or-Treat, and the Old-Fashioned Holiday Market on Public Square.
• DCP also assisted the Downtown Residents Association with the planning for the DRA’s inaugural Downtown Historic Homes Tour, which opened the doors to seven downtown residences on September 24.
SECTION 5: SPONSORSHIPS
Thank you to our 2016 floral hanging basket sponsors:
• Downtown Residents Association
• Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association
• Genetti Best Western Hotel & Conference Center
• Riggs Asset Management
• The Luzerne Foundation
SECTION 6: BOARD and COMMITTEES
2016 Board of Directors:
• Chairman – Joel Zitofsky, Design & Development Co.
• Vice-Chairman – Steve Barrouk, Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services
• Secretary – James Casey, Crossing Over
• Treasurer – Bruce Sickel, Highmark Blue Cross
• Dr. Paul Adams, Wilkes University
• Rich Adams, Around Town Bicycles
• Charles Barber, The Luzerne Foundation
• Greg Barrouk, City of Wilkes-Barre
• Robert Bee, WBRE-TV/Nexstar Broadasting
• Will Beekman, F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts
• Jim Bell, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
• Ruth Borland, Esq., Borland & Borland
• Rebecca Brominski, Luzerne County Community College
• Tony Brooks, Wilkes-Barre City Council
• Jerome Campbell, Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic
• Gus Genetti, Genetti Best Western Hotel & Conference Center
• Beth Gilbert, Wilkes-Barre City Council
• Elizabeth Graham, Riggs Asset Management
• Chris Sheperis, Office of Pennsylvania State Senator John T. Yudichak
• Frank Hoegen, Esq., Hoegen & Associates
• Larry Holeva, Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice
• Angel Jirau, Angel Jirau Consulting Company
• Bill Jones, United Way of Wyoming Valley
• Dr. Charles Davis, Penn State Wilkes-Barre
• Rabbi Larry Kaplan, Temple Israel
• John Maday, Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association
• John Malta, Berkshire Hathaway Guard Insurance Company
• Ken Marquis, Marquis Art & Frame
• Joe Matteo, The Frederick Stegmaier Mansion
• Jack McNulty, Office of State Representative Eddie Day Pashinski
• Susan McHugh, Luzerne Bank
• Robert Morgan, Office of Congressman Matt Cartwright
• Michael Murray, The Times Leader
• Teri Ooms, The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development
• Patricia Parks, Downtown Residents Association
• Patrice Persico, King’s College
• Conrad Schintz, Geisinger Health Systems
• Wico Van Genderen, Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business & Industry
• Rick Williams, Luzerne County Council
• Reverend Robert Zanicky, First Presbyterian Church
• Lawrence M. Newman, Executive Director
• Cassandra Fiume, Program & Marketing Coordinator
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Please direct questions or comments to:
Larry Newman, Executive Director
Diamond City Partnership
4 Public Square
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701