by J. Brooks Terry
Approaching the end of its initial five-year run, Downtown Vision, Inc. will likely see its lifespan stretched another seven years after the City Council’s Finance Committee unanimously recommended Monday that the non-profit group get that renewal. However, whom DVI services and its downtown geographical boundaries may both expand.
Council member Art Graham told DVI representatives at the meeting that he thinks the Downtown Business Improvement District should expand to include forthcoming residential projects such as The Plaza phases 1 and 2 and The Shipyards.
Currently DVI’s official boundaries span west to east from Broad to Market streets and north to south from Church Street to Prudential Drive on the Southbank.
“One of my concerns is that here we are experiencing an expansion in our retail market and we aren’t talking about providing DVI’s services to them,” Graham said. “I think it would be good if we were to hold a workshop where we could discuss things like that.”
DVI Executive Director Terry Lorince and Jeanne Miller, deputy director of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission, said talks of redefining DVI have been underway following the commission’s meeting in July.
Miller said the JEDC and DVI staffs would be “working very closely together” over the next six months in an effort to develop a long term plan.
“We’d like to use the next 180 days to study the boundaries and also make projections with respect to the residential units coming online,” Miller said. “We will make calculations based on that.”
DVI is primarily funded through a tax levied on downtown commercial property owners, a voluntary tax those property owners approved of themselves. That non-ad valorem property tax is assessed annually. The rest of DVI’s budget is funded through the City.
Miller said residential properties would likely be assessed an added property tax by 2008. That tax would serve as almost a homeowner’s association fee and go directly to help fund DVI’s budget.
DVI was founded in 2000 as a means to provide various services downtown including security, promotion and hospitality.