A section of North Broad Street in Philadelphia (Image by Mark Henninger/Imagic Digital/The Philadelphia Tribune).
By Stephen Williams
PHILADELPHIA — City Council passed legislation Thursday designed to improve public safety and quality of life in North Central Philadelphia.
A new law established a neighborhood business improvement district in an area bounded roughly from Erie Avenue to Spring Garden Street. North Broad Renaissance Inc., a nonprofit group, will administer the district, which is similar to the Center City District, and others.
The legislation allows the nonprofit to assess taxes from businesses in the district to support street cleaning, beautification and public safety.
The district is home to some of the city’s major venues, such as the Divine Lorraine Hotel, the Met, North Philadelphia train station, AMC Broadstreet 7 movie theater, Sullivan Progress Plaza Shopping Center and Temple University.
“The North Broad Renaissance organization has been essentially doing the work, on a volunteer basis, patching together a few donations,” Council President Darrell L. Clarke said. “This will allow us to have a serious significant level of funding, which will allow it to be self-sustaining.”
The district is part of Clarke’s 5th Council District.
Kenneth Scott, president of Beech Companies and co-chairman of the board for North Broad Renaissance, said it currently spends about $600,000 a year, mostly for street cleaning. But it also coordinates public safety with the Philadelphia, SEPTA and Temple police departments.
Studies have shown that keeping neighborhoods clean also helps to reduce crime.
With this law, North Broad Renaissance, should be able to generate about $500,000 a year, Scott said. In the past the nonprofit has relied on funding from entities like the Knight Foundation and the city of Philadelphia.
Shalimar Thomas, executive director of North Broad Renaissance, said the group hires minority contractors whenever it can and also hires people from the 14 neighborhoods that make up the district that is home to about 55,000 residents and 2,500 businesses in one of the city’s most diverse areas.
According to Thomas, the additional funds will allow the group to plant trees and develop a marketing plan for the area.
Stephen Williams is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.
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