This study discusses Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) as a strategy to revitalize community downtowns and other neighborhoods. Many such areas have faced challenges to their retail and other historical downtown functions in the post–war period from suburban malls and other competitors. A BID can address these challenges. Our BID analysis has a dual spatial lens. We examine the national BID experience and pay added attention to this strategy in New Jersey,
a state with one of the largest numbers of BIDs (about 80) in the country.
This study builds on and updates a 2009 analysis prepared for the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission entitled The Special Improvement District (SID): A Downtown Revitalization Strategy for Communities in the Meadowlands District, by David Listokin, Stuart Koperweis, and Seth Grossman. Dr. Grossman and Mr. Koperweis also provided insights and information for the current 2017 study.
It is appropriate in this introduction to speak briefly about terminology. Both nationally and in New Jersey, there is no consensus on how to describe the downtown revitalization strategy being discussed—here called the BID. Besides Business Improvement District, other common nomenclature includes Special Improvement District (SID), Improvement District (ID), Downtown Improvement District (DID), Neighborhood Community Improvement District (NCID), or Economic Improvement District (EID). The New Jersey state law authorizing the revitalization strategy studied here (N.J.S.A. 40:55-65) speaks of Special Improvement Districts. We recognize and respect this varied nomenclature, however for ease of reference we shall use the term BID in this study with the exception of referring to a specific program that might have SID, ID or other description in its formal programmatic title.