New business district would bring perks to downtown Winston-Salem

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.-- The Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership wants the city to create a new "business improvement district" that would provide extra cleaning services, security patrols, marketing and money to help recruit more businesses into the downtown core.

The newly proposed district would include areas bordered by MLK Junior Drive, Broad Street, Church Street, Spruce Street and Business I-40.

The property owners in the district would be taxed 9 cents for every $100 of taxable property and that money would be used to pay for the extra services.

Jason Thiel, Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership Director, said," With the increased traffic downtown this is something that downtown has evolved to needing additional services.  It would include safety ambassadors who are also called clean team," said Jason Thiel, Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership Director.

Thiel says the Clean team would do all kinds of extra work not provided by city crews now.

"They would be engaged in things like pan and broom service, they would be cleaning up and doing landscaping, but also be crossed trained to provide hospitality services to people but they would also be eyes and ears on the street," said Thiel.

Greg Carlyle, owner of Artisan Restaurant and The Millennium Center likes the idea.

"If we can find a way to adjust that business expense into our operating budget and it could mean for us a safer downtown with visible security and police officers and if it can mean our streets and landscaping and general overall appearance is improved,  then I think it's a great thing," said Carlyle.

City leaders say they have received complaints about large crowds, extra trash and trash being left on the streets during busy weekends and events. The "Clean Team" would take care of all those things and provide extra eyes since they would be in direct contact with the police department.

City Council must approve the plan and tax. A board of business owners in the district would oversee the expenditures and services.

There are two special meetings to help people better understand the district proposal. The first is Wednesday, July 17 at 6 p.m. and the second is Thursday, July 18 at 2 p.m. Both meetings are at Aperture Cinema.