Hastings’ Business Improvement District once again received approval, this time for a perpetual existence.
Members of the Hastings City Council 7-0 during their regular meeting Monday to approve Ordinance No. 4600, which continues the existence and authority of the BID. Councilwoman Jeniffer Beahm was absent.
Council members also voted 6-1 to suspend the rules requiring three votes to pass an ordinance. Councilman Ted Schroeder, who requested discussion about the topic during an upcoming work session, dissented.
The BID, except for one year, has been in existence since 1986.
The BID area follows the BNSF rail line south of First Street between Lexington and Kansas avenues north to Fourth Street.
On July 28, 2014, the City Council passed Ordinance No. 4399 providing for the continuation of the Hastings Business Improvement District through Sept. 30, 2019.
Without an extension, the BID would have ceased to exist at the end of the fiscal year.
On May 21, 2019, the Business Improvement Board voted to recommend the extension of the Business Improvement District existence beyond Sept. 30.
City Administrator Dave Ptak said there has been a change in Nebraska law since the BID was last extended, allowing BIDs to continue into the future without any sunset date.
Funds to be raised through BID assessments for the upcoming fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 will be $68,000.
The question was raised from an audience member during the public hearing about the fact that 46 percent of that $68,000 is for administrative costs.
BID Executive Director Randy Chick broke out those costs. He said $21,000 is his contract fee with the BID board, $1,500 for professional services, $2,000 for printing, $1,000 for telephone, $700 for office supplies and $500 for postage.
Chick highlighted the BID’s accomplishments over the course of the last seven or eight years, including an increased number of renovated first-floor commercial and upper-level living spaces as well as façade-improvement projects. Much of the downtown growth is due to a 2013 Downtown Revitalization Plan and subsequent $350,000 of Community Development Block Grants, which leveraged more than $3 million of private investment creating nine new apartments, two new restaurants, two craft breweries and three renovated buildings.
The BID applied for and received another $350,000 CDBG funding to leverage private investment and implement façade improvements in the district.
Ongoing projects include converting the north-south streets in downtown to two-way streets and creating railroad quiet crossings.
“It’s been incredible to see the support not only from this body but from the community redevelopment authority, our city staff and specifically our investors who are willing to invest dollars in our downtown area,” Chick said.
The downtown historic district was listed in December 2018 in the National Register of Historic Places.
“For the heritage tourism crowd that’s kind of a cool thing to draw people to our community,” Chick said. “Maybe more importantly, when developers look for incentives this will be a little quicker process if they want to take advantage of federal or historic tax credits.”
Several property owners who have developed buildings in the BID district and benefited from the agency spoke in favor of the BID.
Dave Rippe, who is managing partner for the THOAR development group, said THOAR’s cumulative investment has surpassed $4 million in the Block 27 project on First street, which has added 19 new apartments that house mostly young professionals.
Block 27 retail space houses Steeple Brewing and Allo Communications.
“And by the middle of September, Wave Pizza,” Rippe said, with a superstitious knock on the wooden podium.
“Moreover, downtown redevelopment isn’t easy and certainly isn’t cheap,” he said. “There’s a reason communities from Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Kansas are consistently touring our downtown. Without the efforts of the BID, CRA, city of Hastings and so many others, investor capital would certainly find other places, possibly outside of our community all together. The vibrancy created in downtown Hastings in part by and through the efforts of the BID is critical to attracting continued investment and more visitors and customers to our downtown.”
In other business, the council:
— Unanimously approved authorizing the mayor to execute all documents, including a $120,000 local match, pertaining to the $425,000 Community Development Block Grant for removal of architectural barriers in the city of Hastings.
— Unanimously approved moving the Hastings City Council work session from Monday Sept. 2 to Tuesday Sept. 3, 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.
— Unanimously approved the notice award for $196,649 to Werner Construction for the Hastings CRA larking lot 3 improvements project at First Street and Lincoln Avenue.
— Unanimously approved the contract with Wilkins ADP and Olsson for professional services to complete the community and senior center feasibility study.
— Unanimously approved the resolution authorizing allowable 1 percent increase in restricted funds.
— Unanimously approved the resolution authorizing the mayor and manager of the Hastings Utility Department to enter in an amendment to the gas supply agreement between the city of Hastings and Central Plains Energy Project.
— Unanimously approved 2.6-cent levy authority for the Community Redevelopment Authority.