A private sector-led effort to increase safety, vibrancy and cleanliness
A select group of commercial property owners in downtown Saint Paul have come together to form a downtown improvement district (DID) to bring additional services that will increase cleanliness, vibrancy and safety in a core area. DIDs have proven to dramatically improve public safety and security, enhance the upkeep and maintenance of public spaces, and attract new businesses while retaining existing ones. They’re also proven to increase property values and stimulate overall community vitality.
What is a DID?
A downtown improvement district provides improvements and activities such as sidewalk cleaning, trash collection, graffiti removal, public realm safety and security, and more to a commercial district. Its purpose is to supplement – not replace – government services, using a model where commercial property owners in an area agree to assess themselves to fund additional services in that area. The revenues are not managed by the city or a government entity, but rather by the property owners themselves.
The 65 largest cities in the nation – not including Saint Paul – currently have a downtown improvement district. Duluth, Minneapolis and Rochester all have successful districts as well.
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The benefits of a DID
There are thousands of downtown improvement districts across the country because they are a proven method of increasing safety, cleanliness and vitality in communities large and small. According to the International Downtown Association:
- On average, streets maintained by DIDs were found to be cleaner than similar commercial streets located in the same city.
- DIDs have declining crime rates. In Philadelphia, crime decreased by 40% in their district.
- DIDs maintain lower commercial vacancy rates. In Red Bank, New Jersey, the occupancy rate increased from 65% to 97%.