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Business Improvement Districts (BID) have been in existence since 1969, providing a mechanism for them to purchase services beyond what a city can afford to provide.  BIDs are defined as private organizations authorized by municipal or state law, by request from a group of business owners in a specific neighborhood.  The power is granted for the BID to collect payment for the operation of the BID for multiple uses: security, side-walk cleaning, street lighting, signage, marketing, security, as well as other uses determined by the BID.  Today, there are now over 1,500 BIDs in existence.

Improvement districts are a popular tool in downtown areas across the nation to enhance the level of services needed for dense centers of commerce and living.

In 2020, the Saint Paul City Council approved a Downtown Improvement District (DID) a form of a BID, for the central and western area of downtown, which generates annual revenue for investments and services from different commercial property assessments. However, under Minnesota statute, the DID cannot assess residential properties, which form the majority of eastern downtown.

A Lowertown Residential Improvement District, based on residential assessments, could fill this gap in the downtown geography and provide services for the lived experience of Lowertown’s diverse population.

What are Improvement Districts?

A Residential Improvement District (RID) could serve as a way for Lowertown to increase services for those who live in the neighborhood. It could also provide additional services the City government can’t. 


The creation of the Lowertown Residential Improvement District (LRID) could take place through legislation and with municipal action by the Saint Paul City Council.

 If passed, we believe it would be the first of its kind in the nation.

Making the case for a Residential Improvement District

How Does it Work?


Members of a Business Improvement District (BID) pay an additional fee for the common services they want that the City can’t or doesn’t provide. These fees, or assessments, create a new source of funding for local improvements.

Tax vs. Assessment


Whereas, a tax is money used by a municipality to pay for everything the municipal government does, a BID assessment becomes a direct benefit to those assessed.

Assessments through a Residential Improvement District could supplement services provided by municipalities or address specific needs expressed by residents that can not be met through a BID.

What can a Lowertown Residents Improvement District do for you?

Community members want a voice at the table. Residents feel like other entities aren’t representing their interests. LRID would position them as investors. Their voices would matter. It creates an opportunity for residents to have expanded investment, ownership, and voice in their neighborhood.

Examples of Services

Creating a residential improvement district could increase property values resulting from an improved public realm and neighborhood activities.

  • Improved neighborhood security

  • Serve parallel existing entities that serve downtown’s business interest

  • Create activities for residents

  • Both business and residential districts would collaborate to improve service delivery, effective and efficient use of resources

  • Serve as a platform for Lowertown RID investment concerns


Timeline & Goals

  • Mobilize Lowertown residents to petition the City of St. Paul’s Mayor’s office and City Council to create an ordinance for a residential improvement district

  • The creation of the association along with a board of directors, recruited amongst residential stakeholders, to manage the RID

  • Host a series of listening sessions and focus groups for residents to share their vision for Lowertown and learn how they can become involved

  • Create database consisting of Lowertown residents who are renters and property owners

Our goal is to ensure property owners and residents are empowered to decide the direction and future of their neighborhood and become fully vested stewards of downtown Saint Paul.


Frequently Asked Questions

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