Business Improvement Districts (BIDs)
A Business Improvement District (BID) is organized and established by property and business owners to enhance the economic vitality of a downtown or neighborhood commercial area. The cost of BID services is financed by a self-imposed tax on the businesses within the community. If the residents opt to also be taxed, the BID may be called a community improvement district (CID). The tax is a surcharge to the real property tax liability. The tax is collected by the District of Columbia and all revenues are returned entirely to the organization managing the BID. Business and property owners control the BID and how funds are spent.
The Department of Small and Local Business Development manages the certification of BIDs and the BID charter extension process.
BID expenditures are used primarily for purchasing supplemental services, which could include:
- Maintaining commercial corridors through litter and graffiti removal and landscaping to supplement city services;
- Increasing security through the presence of ambassadors who walk the commercial district;
- Promoting the commercial district and the businesses operating therein;
- Providing homeless and youth services; and,
- Making capital improvements (e.g., street furniture, decorative lighting) to supplement city services
Current BIDs and CIDs
Currently, there are ten established business improvement districts, which provide programs that address commercial District-wide issues, e.g., cleanliness, maintenance, safety, promotion, economic development and other collective business issues in their coverage areas.
- Adams Morgan Partnership BID
- Anacostia BID
- Capitol Hill BID
- Capitol Riverfront BID
- Downtown DC BID
- Georgetown BID
- Golden Triangle BID
- Mount Vernon Triangle BID
- NoMa BID
- Southwest BID
Steps for Establishing a BID in Washington, DC
The first step is to meet with the Councilmember representing the Ward in which the proposed BID is located. If the Councilmember supports the BID initiative, then request the Councilmember consider introducing a bill to establish the proposed BID boundaries and the supplemental taxing rate. The bill should be introduced once steps 4 and 6 below are completed.
Step 1: Form a non-profit BID Corporation.
- Designate incorporators
- Designate the initial Board of Directors
- Prepare and adopt articles of incorporation and bylaws
- File incorporation documents with the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
- Apply for a federal employer identification number
- Apply for IRS recognition as a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation
Step 2: Establish the boundaries of the BID.
Step 3: Develop a database of property owners and commercial tenants in the BID area.
Step 4: Establish the mechanism for calculating supplemental taxes. It may be helpful to understand why current BIDs chose their particular tax formulas.
Step 5: Develop a business plan, including a budget and scope of services covering the first 5 years of operation.
Step 6: Prepare and submit the BID application to the Mayor, through DSLBD, for registration. The application is to include the following components:
- Signed statements in support of the BID formation by the required number of commercial real property owners and tenants in the proposed district.
- Business plan for the first 5 years of BID operation.
- Map of BID area.
- List of initial BID board members.
- Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws of BID Corporation
- List of all commercial property owners in BID area
- List of all commercial tenants in BID area
- Tax formula used for the BID fee and proposed first-year charges
- Other materials, as specified by DC Statue § 2-1215
Step 7: Mayor, through DSLBD, makes preliminary review of the BID application within 15 working days of submission.
Step 8: Mayor, through DSLBD, issues a finding that application criteria have been met and schedules a public hearing to be held within 45 days.
Step 9: At least 21 days prior to the public hearing, the BID Corporation must submit a notice of the hearing to each commercial property owner and commercial tenant, each Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, the Council of the District of Columbia, and each major citizen association within the BID area.
Step 10: Within 10 days after the public hearing, the Mayor shall either register the BID or determine that the BID application requirements have not been met, in which case the BID has 45 days to correct the application.
Step 11: Once the BID has been registered, it can begin operations, including working with the DC Office of Tax and Revenue to collect assessments.