When the leaders of the Business Improvement District (“BID”) asked our permission to expand the District’s boundaries to include two of our apartment buildings on West Evergreen Avenue (Colonial Manor Apartments and Chestnut Hill Apartments), we gave it. Even though it would cost us almost $12,000 a year, we wanted to be good citizens and contribute to the Community.
We are, however, reconsidering our position.
The BID has gone too far. It now wants to include single family residences in the unit blocks on either side of Germantown Avenue – if they are rented. Let me translate that: They want to tax the Woodwards.
Why should the Woodwards be taxed for Bowman Properties?
Which brings me to my objection: The BID has not gone far enough. It has absolutely no enforcement power over malingering commercial landlords.
We all know the law of supply and demand. If there is no demand, the price must drop to clear the market.
All the BID is doing is subsidizing commercial property owners who don’t want to take a loss.
Look at the former restaurant space on Germantown Avenue at Abington. Abandoned. Look at the Magarity site. Unbegun. Look at the second floor at Germantown and Gravers Lane. Unfinished.
Responsibility for all this belongs where? With the owner, of course, but also with the community. Every organization in town has failed to prevent these vacancies from continuing ad nauseam.
The Historical Society. Failed. The Community Association. Failed. The Business Association. Failed. The BID. Failed and will fail.
What is to be done?
All of the above organizations must agree on two simple principles.
One, if a commercial property remains vacant for two years, its taxes must be doubled.
Two, if a commercial property remains vacant for five years, it must be condemned.
The power to tax is the power to destroy. Why should the BID be permitted to expand its borders and hurt the very neighbors who are already being victimized by unreasonable commercial landlords? It should first punish those landlords. It should force them to sell.
To the ramparts!!!
A longtime property owner in Chestnut Hill