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City Should Allow Self Managed Special Service Districts – Article by Thatcher Imboden

Thatcher Imboden, past president of the Uptown Association, writes an article on the management of Special Service Districts in Minneapolis:

The Problem
Minneapolis business districts struggle to provide cost-effective, responsive district services, like snow removal from sidewalks, holiday lighting, graffiti removal and more.

The Solution
The City should allow business districts to have the option to self-manage the services provided to the City for three primary reasons:
1.    Local management can be more responsive than the current city managed system
2. Local management can be more cost effective
3. Local management can provide better financial transparency and budgeting

You can read the full article here:

Great Cities Collaborative: Updates

Over the past few months, the Great Cities collaborative has been busy researching and reaching out.

It seems as though there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about Special Service Districts (SSDs) and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) – there’s some confusion as to what is what, and what the differences are. Complicating the matters – some of these things vary from city to city and SSD to SSD. Dispelling the myths to create an accurate picture has been a big part of our research. We feel we’ve got a pretty good handle – and have some information about this posted to our F.A.Q. section. As we find out more, we’ll share that with you here.

We’ve been meeting and talking with other BIDs and SSDs, learning about their struggles and successes. How they’ve worked to overcome obstacles is going to be key for us moving forward. For example, we’ve yet to find a BID that has a snow removal service like the SSD on Central Avenue has. Does that mean it can’t be done? No – but we’ll be charting new territory as we find a way to sustain that valued service, if we move forward.

What we’ve been up to:

  • Speaking with other BIDS and SSDs and their struggles and successes.
  • Outreaching to other organizations in Minnesota that are also in the planning process.
  • Meeting with Carol Becker, who has been doing fantastic research with Business Improvement Districts nationally.
  • Outreaching to businesses and stakeholders in our areas.
  • Updating our three-year timeline according to the new information and concrete milestones.

Our next steps are:
(Pending approval of our 2nd year of research funding)

  • Meeting again with elected officials, city staff and with new city officials.
  • Laying out budgets – what will the actual numbers be and what would it cover?
  • Continuing to meet with businesses and stakeholders in our areas.
  • Drawing up ordinances.

West Broadway Business Improvement District Survey

The WBC is currently engaged in research to find out if creating a  Business Improvement District would be advantagous for the corridor.  Take the following survey and tell us what you think.

Thanks!  If you have any questions please contact or 612-353-5178.

Parking is the Beginning and Ending Experience of the Commercial Corridor for Most of your Customers

Lake Street Council’s goal is to identify the key opportunities to improve that experience.

Our first and foremost assumption is that vacant parking spaces in a fully leased project do not benefit anyone and have a negative impact on the built environment.

Lake Street Council is in the process of identifying parking lot ownership from Mississippi River Blvd. to Lake Calhoun.  Key areas of opportunity are 27th & Lake and Bloomington & Lake.

We are studying the opportunities and challenges to shared parking. The Urban Land Institute has done significant work in this area and we plan to tap into their expertise. In order for shared parking to be most effective, it is important that all spaces be conveniently located and accessible to all users. We will measure walking distances from parking areas to destinations and we will explore various techniques of managing parking to encourage the sharing of parking, including parking charges. This exploration will cover the pros and cons of customer parking charges and employee parking charges.

To create a parking district, our shared parking analysis will require projecting parking needs for our specific combination of businesses in each of these areas, including surveying existing conditions and discussing parking management strategies with all the stakeholders, to ensure that shared parking can occur as assumed in our study phase. We assume that these conversations will result in additional recommendations for directional signage and improved design of our pedestrian system.

Additional funding will be required and may include municipal bonding, additional metering or increased cost, CDBG funding, MNDoT, and TOD funding. This commercial corridor initiative that is expected to result in the establishment of a parking district will also require the business community to contribute.

While we are exploring Parking Improvement Districts to manage a perceived parking problem in specific areas, the districts when established should pro-actively shape increased development in a more positive way.


more enlightening information about Central work on the BID collaborative coming soon!


more enlightening information about Lake Street work on the BID collaborative coming soon!