MiMo area moves ahead to create self-taxing business improvement district
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
MiMo District property owners and activists are moving ahead to set up a self-taxing business improvement district in the emerging Miami Modern Historic District.
The group has been eyeing the concept more than two years, but plans are finally taking shape along Biscayne Boulevard from 65th to 82nd streets, said Barbara Gimenez, secretary of the MiMo Business Improvement Committee, the private corporation spearheading the district.
Other Miami commercial areas such as Wynwood and the Design District are exploring self-taxing districts as well, city officials say.
Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who represents the MiMo area, asked commissioners last week for $100,000 to create the district. To ensure it's well used, he told them, it won't be released until there's an agreement with goals and a monitoring system.
The MiMo Business Improvement Committee is to propose boundaries, determine services and prepare property owners to support a vote on the district, city documents state.
The city's funds are to go in part is to hire a committee director, Ms. Gimenez said, adding that appointee Scott Timm is to begin the job June 16, heading community outreach, creating promotional materials and surveying property owners.
Two main priorities for area businesses, she said, are beefed-up security and cleaner streets.
The Miami Modern Historic District was designated in 2006 to preserve its 1950s-era architecture. Commissioners say it could become an attractive destination for tourists and locals.
"The whole MiMo area is booming," said Michelle Spence-Jones. "There is a huge difference in the area."
"That whole area could be a jewel and tourist destination in our city," agreed Chairman Joe Sanchez.
Miami set up its first self-taxing, 18-block improvement district in Coconut Grove in December after 165 property owners voted for it, agreeing to fund improvements and marketing.
Coral Gables has a 12-year-old business improvement district, which won extended life in August 2007 when property owners voted to keep it going.
The new Coconut Grove district is to generate almost $1.4 million its first year, nearly $500,000 from district taxes and $900,000 from city funding. Benefits include cleaner streets, more security, increased marketing and more retail and restaurant business.
Coconut Grove district Director David Collins said he's met with the MiMo committee to provide guidance and advice. He's also helping North Miami Beach and Naples explore improvement districts. He recommends business areas looking to form districts get all property owners involved, learn their priorities and be accessible to them.
About four other self-taxing improvement districts are looking to form within Miami alone, Mr. Collins said, but he wouldn't identify them because "they have not gone public."
At the commission meeting, Chief Financial Officer Larry Spring said the city is guiding commercial corridors such as Wynwood and the Design District through the process.
"They will have to organize to move forward with the actual creation of a BID."