Planning committee in place; working on getting new BID up and running in Fondren

By ANTHONY WARREN,

The Fondren Business Improvement District (BID) continues to take shape, nearly a year after business owners there voted to form it.

Planning committee members have been working for months on the nuts and bolts of the BID.

The district is bordered by Lakeland Drive at I-55 to the east, Oxford Avenue between Hartfield and Taylor drives to the west, the intersection of North State Street and Old Canton Road to the south and Hartfield and Glenway Drive to the north.

It includes approximately 150 parcels. Eighty-four percent of eligible property owners voted to approve the BID last November.

Recently, the group filed for tax-exempt status for the Historic Fondren Business District, Inc., the group to whom BID revenues will go.

A BID is a special taxing district established by state statute. Property owners within it pay an additional assessment on their annual property taxes, which goes to fund improvements within the district.

Committee members are now working to draft bylaws, choose a slate of candidates to serve on the board of directors and scope out projects to fund with those proceeds.

Plans are to have the bylaws and board in place before revenues start coming in next spring.

Fondren Renaissance Foundation (FRF) led the charge to form the district and will oversee spending and day-to-day operations within it.

“The committee has gathered prototype bylaws of similar organizations from across the country and trying to develop the best version,” FRF Board President Roy Campbell said. “They are working with (CPA) Chuck Lindsay to qualify the BID for 501(c)(6) status and are planning to present a slate of directors for consideration at the first membership meeting in early 2020.” 

A date for the membership meeting had not been set at press time.

Once the board is approved, directors will finalize the bylaws and begin seeking proposals from firms interesting in providing security and take on BID projects.

Committee members include Wendy Mullins, an attorney, Bradley Arant law firm; Vanda Crowe, Bancorp South; Sean Cupit, Fondren Fitness; Robert Hutchinson, Butler Snow law firm; Alan Lange, Homewood Suites; Eddie Prosser, McDade’s; Stewart Speed, developer of the Meridian; and Micajah Sturdivant,  Fondren property owner.

The group’s third meeting was October 15 at the Fondren Trustmark.

In addition to nominating board members and crafting bylaws, the committee is also working to obtain 501(c)(6) status for Historic Fondren Business District, Inc.

State statute mandates that to form a district, a nonprofit has to be set up to collect BID revenues.

Under the BID, commercial property owners will pay an additional eight cents per square foot of land and eight cents per square of foot of developed property.

The tax will generate approximately $235,000 a year.

Main objectives of the Fondren BID include public safety, landscaping and maintenance, economic development and marketing and signage upgrades.

Fifty percent of the budget, or $117,000, will go toward public safety; landscaping will take up 20 percent of the budget; while economic development and marketing and wayfinding signage will each receive 2.5 percent of the budget. The remaining 15 percent of BID funding will go toward administrative costs.

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