Downtown Improvement Board
|Downtown Improvement Board|
|Location||Rhodes Building, Suite 401|
41 North Jefferson Street
|Board officers||Burney Merrill, Chairman|
Ed Carson, Vice Chair
Deborah Dunlap, Treasurer
Bob Van Slyke
Mark A. Bednar
|Budget||$774,290 (FY07 projected)|
The Downtown Improvement Board (DIB) is a quasi-governmental organization formed by the Florida legislature in 1972 with the purpose of developing and marketing the 44-block "core" of downtown Pensacola. Centered on Palafox Street, the DIB is similar in both mission and area to the Community Redevelopment Agency.
Purpose & leadership
The mission of the DIB is "to continue the removal of commercial blight; enhance property values; encourage economic development; attract commercial and residential development into the urban core; and beautify Downtown Pensacola."
The DIB is governed by a five-member Board, nominated by the Mayor of Pensacola and appointed to three-year terms by the Pensacola City Council. There are three paid staff members, including an executive director.
The current director is Franklin "Kim" Kimbrough, who was selected from a pool of 23 candidates on September 10, 2004, three months after the resignation of previous director Wanda Enfinger. At the time he was hired, Kimbrough's salary was set at $50,000. His contract was later amended to raise this figure to the average salary of the directors of the Santa Rosa Island Authority, the Port of Pensacola and the Pensacola Regional Airport — or nearly $100,000.
Funding & budget
The Downtown Improvement Board is a taxing authority that levies an additional 2.00 mills on the taxable value of properties within its boundaries.
As of 2006, the organization's annual budget was $585,056, of which $372,464 came from property taxes. The remainder was provided by revenue from programs, events, sponsorships and interest.
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The 44-block area of the DIB is an uneven collection of commercial properties centered roughly around Palafox Street, bounded to the north by Belmont and Wright Streets and to the south by Lexington Plaza. The east-west axis is centered along Garden Street as far east as Alcaniz and as far west as A Street.
The Downtown Parking Management District strives to provide plentiful, accessible, low cost and free parking throughout Downtown Pensacola. With 1,543 off-street spaces and 6,983 on-street spaces, you will find 8,526 parking spots dispersed in convenient locations throughout downtown.
On December 6, 2007 the DIB unveiled a study by Fort Lauderdale-based firm Marketing Developments which laid out a two-year roadmap to improve the downtown retail environment. Among the recommendations:
- Change one-way streets to two-way.
- Encourage business owners to keep later, more consistent hours of operation.
- Hold weekend markets on the Palafox Street median.
- Market downtown area under the name "HarborTown."
In 2006 the DIB sought to expand its boundaries in several directions, an effort that required approval of property owners within the proposed areas. Chairman Dan Lozier said the Board tried to assist restoration efforts at St. Michael's Cemetery following acts of vandalism, "but we were told that we couldn't make the donation because the cemetery isn't in the district."
The exact boundaries of the expansion proposal were altered several times to omit residential neighborhoods, instead focusing on four commercial areas:
- Area 1 – east of Alcaniz Street and south of the CSX Railroad, including the Crowne Plaza Grand Hotel, Gulf Power Company and future developments around the Aragon neighborhood, which was itself excluded
- Area 2 – commercial areas adjacent to Seville Square, south of Main Street and east of Jefferson Street (including Seville Harbor), and the southeastern end of Palafox Street, including Palafox Pier
- Area 3 – southwest of existing DIB boundaries to Clubbs Street, including the Trillium and Main Street Sewage Treatment Plant properties
- Area 4 – small strip centered on Garden Street between Devilliers and A Streets.
Notably, the four areas included a number of undeveloped areas slated for future projects, like the Community Maritime Park and Hawkshaw Eastside, but the Belmont-DeVilliers neighborhood was not included. According to the proposed plan, property owners within the four areas would vote by mail-in ballot. The areas would be tabulated independently, meaning a failure to pass in one area would not affect the other three. If all the areas approved the expansion, the DIB would have received an additional $179,594 (approximated from 2006 property values).
- Expansion Q&A - Official website
- Goals & Priorities - Official website
- "Downtown Improvement Board hires new director." Pensacola News Journal, September 11, 2004.
- "DIB's Executive director salary set to double over 3 years." Pensacola News Journal, September 10, 2006.
- Retail strategy
- "Downtown businesses laud retail report." Pensacola News Journal, December 17, 2007.
- HarborTown? Rick's Blog, December 7, 2007.
- "Downtown district may be expanded." Pensacola News Journal, April 11, 2006.
- "Vote kills effort to expand tax zone." Pensacola News Journal, September 29, 2006.