A 14-week outdoor movie series and a new property and business improvement district are two of the items to be funded by money appropriated to the Hollister Downtown Association from the city's redevelopment agency. The City Council this week approved up to $70,000 in funding, part of which will be used to create a downtown events coordinator/planner, according the HDA Executive Director Brenda Weatherly. The funding, called a "one-time" request by the downtown association, includes $20,000 to provide free weekly outdoor cinema entertainment on a 25-foot by 15-foot inflatable movie screen. The money would help augment $15,000 that the HDA has solicited from downtown businesses to fund the expected $40,000 project, which would run on Thursday nights from May 28 through Aug. 27.
Outdoor movies would be shown on the grass area at the corner of Fourth and San Benito streets, near the Briggs Building parking garage.
"You can bring your family and some lawn chairs and have a picnic dinner and watch a movie," Weatherly said.
Bill Chow, executive director of the city's redevelopment agency, said the finding will help the downtown association to "be more active in bringing more events to the downtown."
"That, in turn, will help bring more people to the downtown," he said. "It'll assist the HDA in downtown revitalization."
The $20,000 allocation for the events coordinator/planning coordinator will provide start-up funding for a new position that the HDA hopes will increase the number and frequency of events held downtown throughout the year.
"We anticipate the position being self-funded through sponsorships and vendors after the first year," Weatherly said.
The remaining $30,000 in redevelopment money is earmarked to establish a downtown property and business improvement district, which the HDA describes as a "self-funding mechanism" that will support improvements, activities and marketing "for the greater good" of the entire downtown area.
Under the plan, which would have a five-year run, property owners would pay an assessment to help fund projects designed to spruce up the business district.
"They would set specific goals," Weatherly said. "It enables them to control their environment. We could hang plants and hire somebody to water them; buy sidewalk cleaner. There are a lot of things the city can't pay for that this district. The district decides what goes on there."
Other cities have used property and business improvement districts to fund the installation of benches and signs, lighting, planting areas, parks, fountains and more. Promotion of public events and tourism can also be done with revenue from the district.
These districts allow areas such as Hollister's downtown to "fund additional services that they felt they needed and that the city could not provide at that time," Chow said.
Downtown business and property owners will work with a consultant to determine the boundaries of the district. If a majority of the affected business people vote in favor of forming the property and business improvement district, it will go into effect, Chow said, with the amount of the individual assessment to be determined.
"It depends on how much [money] they want to generate and what programs they want to fund," Chow said.
Ultimately, he added, the district could help Hollister's downtown develop a consistent source of funding for economic development, marketing and maintenance.
The measures funded by redevelopment money also give the downtown area a chance to thrive in challenging times, according to Weatherly.
"Especially during the economic downturn, it's a great opportunity for us to get people downtown," she said.
Source: "Outdoor movies coming to Hollister this summer" by Adam Breen -Pinnacle News. Read full article at: http://www.pinnaclenews.com/news/contentview.asp?c=253920