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Business Development Strategy Focuses on Mall, Downtown Partnership

Members of Moorestown's Economic Development Advisory Committee are exploring the establishment of a Business Improvement District here.

It’s a theme frequently stressed in film (The Avengers), sports (Miami Heat’s Big 3 vs. Cleveland-era Lebron James) and countless other media: Teamwork trumps going it alone.

That mantra applies to the business community as well, which is why members of Moorestown’s Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) are exploring the possibility of establishing a Business Improvement District (BID) here.

Township resident Eric Goldstein, executive director for the King of Prussia BID, has been offering his expertise to EDAC. To underscore the benefit of a BID, he explained why downtowns have suffered over the years.

“A lot of the reason American Main Streets have declined over the last few decades is the growth of suburban retail malls,” he said. “Malls are successful because they have one collective voice.”

With a mall, Goldstein said, there’s a single entity taking care of the landscaping and maintenance and business recruitment, whereas with a downtown, “You have a collection of dozens or hundreds of individual business owners who, in many cases, are doing whatever they can to get by.”

The idea behind a BID is to bring those disparate voices together as a functional whole. To fund the BID though—including paying an executive director to run it, plus expenses for marketing, accounting, etc.—requires a tax assessment on businesses within the district.

In Moorestown’s case, this would include businesses along Main Street and the Lenola area, as well as the mall and East Gate Square. Goldstein and collaborator Jacob Gordon, a township resident who serves on the Cooper’s Ferry Partnership in Camden, crafted a sample budget of $308,000 for the hypothetical Moorestown BID, which would be paid for primarily through a 4 or 5 percent levy on businesses, based on property value.

“A lot of people just describe it as another tax,” said Goldstein. “People who support it, and there’s quite a lot, believe it was an investment in the growth of their business.”

He said the underlying goal of a BID is increasing property values for the businesses in it, because “if a property’s value is increasing, it means they’re doing well.”

To achieve that, a BID typically focuses on five programs, according to Goldstein: marketing, physical improvements, transportation, tax policy, and land use and zoning.

The King of Prussia BID, established in January 2011, includes more than 285 commercial property owners, according to its website.

One of the keys to making the BID feasible in Moorestown would be getting PREIT, the owner of the Moorestown Mall, on board. In Goldstein and Gordon’s sample budget, the mall () accounts for roughly a third of the revenue.

EDAC chair Jacob DerHagopian said it’s not unrealistic to think the mall might be interested.

“I would not rule out the mall being a player here,” he said. “And the benefit is they’re professional property owners. They understand how this works.”

Goldstein said the King of Prussia Mall makes up about a third of the King of Prussia BID’s $1.1 million budget.

“We’re going to have to demonstrate value to (PREIT),” said Gordon.

DerHagopian and Goldstein stressed EDAC is just in the beginning phases of exploring the possibility of a BID. DerHagopian said the next step is approaching PREIT and told Goldstein and Gordon to refine their pitch for a potential post-summer meeting with the mall owner.

“If they buy into it, then we know where we’re going and that’s the first leg of the race,” DerHagopian said.

Main Street June 29, 2012 at 12:01 PM
BID tax, yeah that's it. more "visionary" ideas that some want to push on Moorestown. That "lenola town center" town parking,and other visionary ideas have so far failed. Who are the players in this process?
kristen babcock June 29, 2012 at 12:30 PM
I find it hysterical to put K.O.P. Mall and Moorestown Mall in the same sentence.
The Situation June 29, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Even more hysterical is getting help from someone in Camden, THAT place looks good! What's wrong, after wasting township money on a study a few years back we couldn't get help from somebody say, in North Philly? Maybe this town needs some more committees.
No New Taxes 2012 June 29, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Main Street economic model is dead. Old. Out dated. Gone. No new taxes in 2012. Don't vote for anyone who is raising our taxes. Moorestown Business Association should pay its own way. Stop looking for a handout. Pay to play.
Mark Morgan June 30, 2012 at 01:47 AM
No New Taxes 2012, First of all, the Moorestown Business Association (an all-volunteer organization by the way) was not mentioned at all in the article above, so I'm not sure why you decided to take a shot at us in your comment. As MBA President, I did attend this very interesting EDAC meeting (which I strongly encourage you to do so you could become better informed). Second, no one is 'looking for a handout' and this would be a classic example of your 'Pay to play' suggestion, so I would think you would be all for it. As stated in the sixth paragraph above, the way a Business Improvement District (BID) works is that there is a 'tax assessment on businesses within the district' (not residents), so a BID does not raise your taxes. In fact, a BID cannot be enacted unless a majority of the businesses within the district agree to it; i.e. they have to agree to 'pay to play'. Thus they are deciding that they collectively want to pay for additional marketing, advertising, and event services. Please say hello when you come to an EDAC Meeting, and maybe you can offer some constructive suggestions of your own (i.e., be a part of the solution, instead of just anonymously complaining about the problem)! Sincerely, Mark Morgan President, Moorestown Business Association
Observer June 30, 2012 at 01:49 AM
The mall model is outdated as well. And no matter how they try, people would rather shop at Centerton Square and The Promenade than the Moorestown Mall.
Ed Nice June 30, 2012 at 03:21 AM
Here here Mark Morgan give these grumpy old guys hell. They just love to stir the pot and cause grief for the town with their so called rights to speak their mind. I guess at their age they have just thrown in the towel and don't care that people like yourself are willing to put the work into trying to solve issues for the town. Maybe everything doesn't work but instead of saying good try or thank you for the effort they would rather complain and add to the problem instead of offer any real solutions. Well for myself and on behalf of my family, I thank you and the EDAC for all the hard work and personal time you but into the town to make it a better place for all to live in. Even the grumpy ones!

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