Gables BID proves a successful model for other Florida cities

The Business Improvement District of Coral Gables (BID) is setting a trend. Florida cities including Winter Park, Boca Raton, Naples, Doral, South Miami and MiMo recently have contacted and visited to learn more about its formation, services and strategies. The BID’s success in marketing and advocacy have been evident, and its neighbors have taken notice — using the Downtown Coral Gables BID as a model for their own formation.

“BIDs have become increasingly popular as a vehicle for property owners and business owners to add a layer of services and marketing that cash-strapped city governments cannot dedicate to commercial districts that are in danger of losing their luster,” said Mari Gallet, executive director at the Business Improvement District of Coral Gables. “Now in our 15th year, we have been successful in our mission to market and advocate for Downtown Coral Gables.”

The BID receives its funding through an assessment paid by property owners, and in turn passed through to merchants, to fund BID activities, Gallet explained. The funds are collected by the City of Coral Gables and remitted to the BID, which in turn uses it for advertising, marketing, special events and strategic studies, which would otherwise not be funded by the city.

The involvement of both merchants and property owners is crucial to its success. Therefore, the BID’s board of directors is made up of five property owners, five business owners and one property/business owner, an ex-officio City of Coral Gables commissioner and an ex-officio resident advisor.

“The participation of merchants and property owners is vital for improvement and for establishing the downtown as a shopping and entertainment destination for tourists as well as residents and neighbors,” said Burton Hersh, current president of the BID. “A more diversified participation fosters a deeper and more creative strategy which in the end attracts more visitors, and promotes commerce.”

Most recently, the BID partnered with the University of Miami (UM) to set a definitive course to transform Downtown Coral Gables into a world-class destination. A blue-ribbon committee is reviewing current conditions, regulatory issues, and trending topics in a “Downtown Overlay Study” which will address specific elements that will magnify the benefits of the Downtown Coral Gables Streetscape project.

The Streetscape improvements proposed for Downtown Coral Gables will address the long-term physical deterioration and shortcomings of the physical streetscape along Miracle Mile, Giralda Avenue, and the paseos connecting the principle commercial streets to parking facilities.

It is ongoing projects such as these that have helped Coral Gables live up to its being known as “The City Beautiful.”

Since its inception in mid-1997, the BID has generated millions in retail and dining sales with its support of innovative events, including Coral Gables Restaurant Week and Wine Walk & Shop on the Mile. In addition, its successful marketing and advertising of the “Miracle Mile and Downtown Coral Gables” brand has put Miracle Mile and Downtown Coral Gables on the map as a major tourist and local destination.

The BID is credited with convincing the city to build its current 600-space Museum Parking Garage and was the original architect that proposed the Streetscape project along with its partner, UM. In view of the BID’s efforts through the years, Downtown Coral Gables has maintained itself as a one of Florida’s most viable retail and shopping districts.

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