In the first five years of its existence, the newly established Downtown Bettendorf Self-Supporting Municipal Improvement District will have financial assistance from the City of Bettendorf and Isle of Capri Casino.
After that, the business owners within it will pay a fee above and beyond property taxes to fund projects and services that keep the district economically competitive.
The district will be akin to Downtown Davenport Partnership, which also is a SSMID.
"This SSMID is a great tool. Since its inception by the Iowa legislature in 1977, this tool has encouraged high-level local involvement in development and urban renewal, the exact same thing we're doing with our revitalization efforts in downtown Bettendorf," said Mayor Robert Gallagher during a news conference at Ascentra Credit Union's new headquarters in Bettendorf. "This mechanism allows for business owners and property owners in a defined geographic location to come together to create a district that will generate funds for specific improvements and services that they want."
The SSMID will be vital to creating the downtown everyone wants to see, Gallagher said. "It's been a wonderful undertaking, these are great people, great folks are in downtown."
"We feel that we're part of what makes downtown Bettendorf so great. We've been here for many years and look forward to being here for many more years as well," Isle of Capri Vice President and General Manager Nancy Ballenger said. "It's our pleasure to contribute to this endeavor, and we look forward to many years to come. As Mayor Gallagher stated, we are all in this together."
Since 2017, there has been interest in creating a downtown organization similar to Downtown Davenport Partnership, said Ryan Jantzi, Downtown Bettendorf Organization executive director. "We created an image, we created a work plan and then we needed to decide how we were going to pay for that work plan," he said. The SSMID was the best way to accomplish those plans, and it was established after three consecutive unanimous votes from the Bettendorf City Council. It will affect commercial, multi-residential and industrial units within the district.
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Jantzi expressed excitement about the district, noting the large amount of support from business and property owners. He needed 25% of the district's businesses to sign the petition for a SSMID. He met with 97%, and 58% of the property owners — representing 70% of the property value — signed off. "If that doesn't show you a commitment to our downtown and a commitment to our future, I don't know what does."
Local business owners, part of the Downtown Bettendorf Organization, also celebrated the establishment of the district.
"It's a privilege to be involved with this effort. We've got some great people, the support of property owners," Bowe Machine president Simon Bowe said at the conference.
"I haven't seen this much development, this much excitement down here in many, many years so I'm very thrilled to be a part of it, very happy to see it happening," said Don Keller, owner of K&K Hardware. "I think everything's looking really rosy as we come into this next part of downtown Bettendorf's life."
Ascentra Credit Union will donate office space to the Downtown Bettendorf Organization, Jantzi said at the conference.
Jantzi said the first year will be devoted to building a charter, enhancing next year's "Be Downtown" event, small capital projects and creating a work plan for when the SSMID dollars start to come in.