Manayunk Gains Funding Status

Posted: October 25, 1996

The bright lights of Manayunk are likely to get brighter still with City Council passage yesterday of a bill that will establish a special services district there.

These districts are all the rage now, enabling commercial areas to tax themselves and use the money for enhanced security, street cleaning and promotion.

Indeed, Philadelphia has five districts in various stages of development, from the pace-setting Center City District to Germantown, Frankford, South Street and City Avenue.

Councilman Michael Nutter introduced the Manayunk bill and is working on a similar one for the City Avenue area in his district.

The Manayunk district, along Main Street from Ridge to Leverington avenues and from the river to the commercial area on Cresson, wants to collect 10 percent more real estate tax from its members. And Kay Smith, executive director of the Manayunk Development Corp., said the district wants to leverage part of its $81,000 in revenue for a $200,000 lighting project.

Money also would go toward pedestrian safety and improved marketing of one of the city's hottest commercial strips, replete with trendy restaurants, furniture and clothing stores and a six-screen theater under construction.

Larry Houstoun, a consultant specializing in the development of ``business improvement districts,'' said Manayunk ``wants to concentrate its appeal on families.''

And to attract those families who are now used to the amenities and high-design standards of enclosed malls, the smart commercial areas need high-quality lighting, he said.

``If you want to keep your businesses and employees happy, you need to provide an appropriate environment,'' he said.

Paul Levy, executive director of the Center City District, estimated there are more than 1,000 districts in North America. They've been developed, he said, to counter declining government expenditures and rising competition from well-designed malls.

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