Portage Business Improvement District looks to expand

2011-08-15T00:00:00Z 2011-08-15T08:50:04Z Portage Business Improvement District looks to expandBy Joyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | The Portage Downtown Business Improvement District is undertaking an effort to expand its boundaries to include the entire Portage Mall.

"This is driven by the city to finally put the issue to rest," said Chris Stidham, administrator of the district.

Stidham said developers have looked at potentially locating on city-owned property on the east side of the Portage Mall, but have expressed concerns about the "shape of the west side."

The Business Improvement District was introduced in 2007 as a mechanism to maintain the mall and downtown area. The idea was to collect an assessment from property owners and use those funds for improvements to and maintenance of the property within the district.

Assessments are based on the size of the property and include additional funds for capital projects, such as asphalt replacement, Stidham said.

When the district was finally approved in early 2008, it did not include the entire east side of the mall because sufficient property owners did not get on board, Stidham said.

However, maintenance in that portion of the mall has been hit-and-miss.

There are 19 parcels not included in the district, involving 13 owners. Stidham said all but two of the property owners are in favor of joining the district.

"The city wants to fix the west side, but not without a mechanism in place to maintain it," said Stidham.

Expansion of the district requires approval by the Portage City Council. A public hearing on the proposal will be held at the council's Sept. 6 meeting.

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