Thursday, April 24, 2014

NID: Incentive or Punlishment?

After a decade of kicking around the idea, the Washington Square West Civic Association has begun seriously looking into the proposition of a Neighborhood Improvement District, or NID. The idea was recently pitched in Callowhill but ultimately shot down. To date, Philadelphia hosts Business Improvement Districts, BIDs, but a NID would be the first of its kind.

A NID is a non-profit entity that charges an additional tax on property owners, and in return the neighborhood receives additional services primarily in the name of security. After several assaults in the neighborhood and a recent stabbing at Midtown Diner, the timeliness of the proposal makes sense.

It's easy to stroll through Washington Square West on any given evening and think, "this neighborhood needs some help." It's a haven for panhandlers all day everyday. At night, prostitutes and drug dealers work in the open. Of course that makes it sound worse than it is. It's a lovely neighborhood full of quaint historic streets.

In fact, most of the neighborhood's woes linger around the vacant Lincoln Apartment Building at Locust and Camac, and the abandoned storefronts on Chestnut. When you consider that, it seems the neighborhood's ills could be remedied with more tenants, not taxes. In fact a NID might discourage the new development Chestnut Street needs simply locking Washington Square West in place.

When you consider the fact that Rittenhouse, Graduate Hospital, Fitler Square, Society Hill, and Old City succeed (for the most part) at maintaining safe neighborhoods without a NID, would an additional tax on Washington Square West neighbors be an incentive or a punishment?

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