February 3, 2013
Business Improvement District
- Long – time urban Main street in downward cycle.
- Security/safety issues – need for more cooperation with police, local government.
- Affluent neighbors issues with businesses and clientele.
- Sanitary conditions.
- Local government abuse of merchants.
- Residential community leaders and some merchants ask Harris to take a leadership roll in trying to address the situation.
- Researched and addressed how newly emerging idea of a business improvement district could support and help as an entity (municipal authority) address the multitude of issues.
- Explored this and other options with government people as well as leaders of the residential communities nearby.
- As the Founding Chairperson, Harris led the step-by-step 2-year process of getting support of the merchants, the community, and government to form the legal entity – Municipal Authority – known as the South Street/Headhouse Business District.
- Maintained and now growing the South Street position as one of the top entertainment destinations in the Philadelphia region.
- Improved sanitation dramatically.
- Created a police mini-station with walking police patrols.
- Supplied bicycles (and maintenance) for police.
- Created a zoning overlay to keep the retail and restaurant and other mix that is so unique to South Street.
- Developed and strategized district and cooperative marketing campaigns
- Initiated an effective dialogue between the municipal government agencies and the merchants and property owners of the Street.
- Created an additional entity to take ownership and restore the Historic Headhouse “Shambles” – one of the few open air markets in America still standing and in use – from colonial times.
- Extended initial 5 year trial period, to a 20 year sunset provision.
- New and effective outdoor lighting.
- Special support programs to help merchants improve the appearance of their properties and stores.
- 15 years later, the district is a major presence in Philadelphia and the community.
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