Remember all those notes and conversation last year about the effort to launch a Community Improvement District in Soulard? Well, it’s happened! You can expect to see cleaner streets and streetscape enhancements in the coming year, among other neighborhood improvements. They are just a few of the immediate initiatives for the recently launched Soulard Community Improvement District (CID). The goal for the CID is to maintain Soulard as an attractive and vibrant neighborhood for residents and visitors. And, it aims to do so by raising the bar even higher – on livability and patronage in Soulard.
“Soulard has a long history of grassroots improvement efforts that have helped it become the successful neighborhood it is today, for both residents and businesses. But Soulard can always get better,” said Soulard CID Chairman Terry Hoffman. “The CID will work to continually improve Soulard and help maintain its status as the destination and go-to neighborhood in St. Louis.”
In the summer of 2019, the St. Louis Board of Alderman passed Board Bill 83 to establish the CID. That bill was a direct result of a petition signed by the majority of property owners in the district, followed by a mail-in election in which 78% of people who voted approved the CID. The CID is a political subdivision (similar to the Soulard Special Business District, which provides supplemental security services within its boundaries), with a maximum duration of 25 years. The CID is managed by a 7-person board, which was appointed by the Mayor, and is comprised of: (3) residential owner/occupants living within the CID, (2) commercial property or business owners within the CID, (1) Soulard Restoration Group (SRG) designee living within the CID and (1) Soulard Business Association designee within the CID.
The CID will pick up costs on projects in which public and private funding sources would have fallen short. And, these costs will not pose a significant financial burden on Soulard residents and businesses. That’s because the CID is funded by a 1% sales tax at neighborhood businesses. And, research shows the money will come primarily from visitors living outside of Soulard. The CID started collecting funds in the second quarter of 2020, but with Covid-19 and the mandatory shutdown earlier this year, CID tax revenues have been significantly below initial projections. Despite the lower-than-projected tax revenue, the CID Board of Directors is working to determine how those funds will best serve the district.
“The projects we’re considering will improve quality of life and the overall experience of being in Soulard, which will help the neighborhood continue to attract new homeowners, residents, businesses, and investment,” said Hoffman. “Property values will increase, and Soulard will continue to be an attractive destination for owning a home, raising a family, investing in neighborhood business, or visiting for dining and entertainment.”
There are four main objectives on which the CID is immediately focused:
- Historically Correct Street Lighting and Enhancement
- Infrastructure Improvement (Sidewalks, Crosswalks, Tree Wells and Tree Planting)
- Coordinated Street and Alley Trash Clean-up
- Strategic Planning, Marketing, and Branding
“We are working to coordinate a wide range of short-term and long-term projects that, prior to the creation of the CID, would have been impossible to address, due to lack of funding. More communities are benefitting from having a CID in place. So, it’s exciting that Soulard will be able to successfully compete with these other neighborhoods thanks to this stream of funds,” said Hoffman.
As the CID just recently launched, the Board of Directors is still working to formalize a process in which residents and businesses may submit ideas and input on upcoming projects. And in addition to the four main objectives stated above, the group has prioritized additional future efforts including alleviating parking and traffic congestion.
The Board of Directors meets the first Monday of each month, at 5:30 p.m. Until further notice, these meetings will be held virtually due to the ongoing pandemic. The meetings are open to the public, and a link will be provided at least 72 hours in advance at www.soulardcid.org. At that website, residents and business owners may also share ideas or questions on current and upcoming projects.