I am sure you have heard by now that businesses will be “forced out” by the hospital and all connected tax revenue will move to another community. However, what if that did not have to be the case?? What if we could emulate what other communities have done and thereby get around the problem?? For some reasons political leaders in Oneida County have a difficult time borrowing successful solutions from other places and then re-imagining them for here. As shown via Art on Utica, I do not have that problem.
Here are the steps:
- Ask the Architect to engage in minimalist design. The more room that can be left to the North before hitting 5S and to the East before abutting Genesee Street, the better.
- Ask the 48 businesses in the area if they would like to stay or leave. Immediately cut a check to those that want to leave and do everything you can to help them vacate as quickly as possible. Under this proposal, the remaining businesses will be taken down last so you need some space to make this work.
- Discourage all people involved in the “procurement” process from cutting side deals and looking for ways to monetize things. Yes, this step is dedicated and directed at one human.
- Once the businesses who wish to stay have been identified, should be 12 or so, do a second survey asking them what would be involved in moving them 3 blocks or so. MVHS should make $50,000 available for inventory transport hardware and software as well as other “moving aids”. A simple grant process can be developed.
- Determine the total usable square footage for the remaining businesses. Build 2 identical Plazas in the Northeast quadrant. Each Plaza should be equal to the size of the total usable square footage.
- Multiply the square footage for each business by its yearly revenue. This will determine the “voting share weight” for each business. Add all the voting share weights together and divide by 100. That will determine the cost in voting share weight of one empaneled vote. Dividing by the original “total buyout price” will determine the worth of a cashed in vote.
- Starting with the business with the highest “voting share weight” which Plaza section they would like to move into. Ask them if they plan to convert all their shares into votes or if they would like to cash some out? (For instance, maybe a business has a lot of square footage they really do not use while at the same time would like to roll out a new product or service but do not have the investment cash. This would give them a chance to right size and get a shot in the arm simultaneously.)
- Begin to move each business into their new spot. The Plazas are fit at 50% of size for 3 reasons:
- Businesses might grow someday. They should be able to buy new space from the Board. Can’t buy new space if it does not exist.
- Some businesses do not fit together perfectly. The extra space helps you work out logistical issues.
- There are many things missing in the downtown from a vendor perspective. Maybe one of the business owners has a friend who wants to open up a pizza location or a stationary store or a coffee shop. Once the original businesses have bought in, the remaining space, up to a pre-set limit for expansion, can be rented out. (Only the original property owners may hold shares for the first 5 years. After that they may sell them like any other fractional real estate holding.)
- Once all the businesses have completed step 7, the newly created Board needs to set an annual meeting date as well as a fee structure for things like trash collection and the like. It is operationally a condo board with the exception of the five year freeze. The Board should be encouraged to engage in as much volume buying, especially for advertising since the downtown is now anchored by the two Plazas, as often as possible.