Downtown Improvements Downtown I

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Downtown Improvements Downtown I Powered By Docstoc
					                                                                               promoting the history, commerce
                                                                                      and culture of downtown

     Downtown Improvements
In 2010 the City of Walla Walla will complete two downtown construction projects.
1. Replacement of aging sewer and water mains under Rose St. from 2nd Ave to Palouse St. A curb-to-
    curb street rebuild is planned similar to the 2004 project on east Main Street. This project is paid for
    by regular ut ility rates and a federal STP grant.
2. Installat ion of six "bubble" style pedestrian friendly / ADA compliant intersect ions on Alder St. and
    Rose St. A $400,000 federal pedestrian access grant pays for these improvements.

                                                                          The City has approached the
                                                                          Downtown Walla Walla
                                                                          Foundat ion (DWWF) to
                                                                          determine if there is interest in
                                                                          addit ional improvements in
                                                                          conjunct ion with the planned
                                                                          construct ion. Since there will
                                                                          be construct ion downtown
                                                                          during 2010 anyway, this could
                                                                          be a good t ime for doing even
                                                                          more. In short:
                                                                           Is there interest in expanding
                                                                                the 1992 Main Street
                                                                           improvements to more of our
                                                                             downtown through a Local
                                                                               Improvement District?

The Board of the Downtown Walla Walla Foundat ion has
not yet taken a posit ion on the project. There is much
informat ion that must be gathered before the DWWF or a
property owner can make an informed decision.

Attached is a survey. Property owners are strongly
encouraged to complete the survey and return to the
DWWF at 2 South First Ave, Ste. 300, Walla Walla, WA
99362. Please return the survey by Friday May 1st, 2009.

There will be an informational meeting with survey
results on Monday, May 11th at 7pm at the Marcus
Whitman Hotel.

Quest ions? Call the DWWF at 529-8755 or e-mail

        Downtown Walla Walla Foundation         509.529.9755               

Basic Questions and Answers
What improvements will be made?
The simplest plan would be to duplicate the level and quality of improvements made on Main Street in the 1992
project. Improvements could include:
    • street trees with grates and sleeves (about 5 per block face)
    • water/irrigation to each tree
    • electric power to base of each tree
    • decorative light poles (about 3 per block face)
    • underground power to light poles and street trees
    • brick pavers along curb edge (3’ to 5' wide)
    • pedestrian friendly/ADA compliant bubble intersections
    • sidewalk replacement (about 50%)
    • sidewalk benches (about two per block face)
    • bike racks (about two per block face)
    • streets would NOT be repaved by the LID

Please fill out the attached survey for your preferences on desired improvements.

What areas will be improved?
The area has not been determined yet. Rose and Alder are possible. Some Poplar St. property owners could
decide to participate. Extending the Main Street improvements to the west might make sense. Cross streets
from Palouse west to 7th or even 9th Street are candidates. The area depends on overall property owner interest.

                                                                                         1992 project
                                                                                         highlighted on the
                                                                                         map include
                                                                                         improvements along
                                                                                         Main and side streets,
                                                                                         paving of the Birch St.
                                                                                         parking lot and
                                                                                         construction of the
                                                                                         Farmers Market

Use the map to refresh your memory and then fill out the attached survey with your preferences on
improvement areas.
        Downtown Walla Walla Foundation           509.529.9755                 
How much will it cost?
About $120,000 per 300 foot block face. Most people think in terms of a half-block; that is a block face and
improvements that wrap around side block faces to the alley.

                                                             Here is a typical half-block. Sidewalk and
                                                             pedestrian improvements are on the primary
                                                             block face and wrap around the side block
                                                             faces to the alley. The diagram includes
                                                             examples of five different parcels (A-E) with
                                                             their square footage. Each half-block has
                                                             about 36,000 square feet of real estate.
                                                             Square footage is the ground-level soil of the
                                                             parcel’s property legal description.

How accurate is the cost estimate?
While the numbers are preliminary, we have asked the City Engineer to produce conservative (as in high) cost
estimates for improvements similar to the 1992 project. The City Engineer has prepared a preliminary estimate
of $120,000 per block face for a 300’ block. Looking to the half-block diagram above:
                ( $60,000 + $120,000 + $60,000 ) / 36,000 square feet equals $6.67 per square foot.
City financed LID bonds at an interest rate of 6% over fifteen years work out to about 5.6 cents per square foot
per month.

For comparison, the 1992 project had a total of $2.3 million in pedestrian improvements over a total area of
about 14 half blocks (about $165,000 per half block compared to the present $240,00o per half block). The 1992
LID also funded Birch Street parking lot paving ($120,000) and construction of the Farmers Market pavilion
($80,000). That all adds up to a total of $2.5 million for the 1992 LID.

How much will it cost me?
Construction cost will be about $6.67 per square foot of ground level area as measured in your property legal
description. If financed through the City's bond process that would be about 5.6 cents per square foot per month
(assuming 15 years at 6% bond interest).

How long will the repayment period be?
The 1992 project had a 15-year repayment period. Anything from 10 to 20 years is typical. See the interest rate
grid in the next question.

What will the interest rate be on the LID bonds?
At this moment, the City bonds sell at about 5.25% interest. We need a crystal ball to know what interest rates
will be in January of 2011 when bonds are sold for this project. Here is a sensitivity analysis of cost per square
foot per month at various interest rates over a variety of repayment periods for a $6.67 per square foot LID
                         Cost per Square Foot per Month
  Int. Rate      5.0%       5.5%      6.0%       6.5%        7.0%      7.5%        8.0%
  10 years $0.071 $0.072 $0.074 $0.076 $0.077 $0.079 $0.081                                   Record your
  12 years $0.062 $0.063 $0.065 $0.067 $0.069 $0.070 $0.072                                   preference for the
  15 years $0.053 $0.054 $0.056 $0.058 $0.060 $0.062 $0.064                                   repayment period
  18 years $0.047 $0.049 $0.051 $0.052 $0.054 $0.056 $0.058                                   in the survey.
  20 years $0.044 $0.046 $0.048 $0.050 $0.052 $0.054 $0.056

         Downtown Walla Walla Foundation            509.529.9755                  
Is it worth it?
That is for property owners to decide. Will a uniform level of quality make downtown more attractive to
potential tenants? As a property owner, do you foresee that these improvements will bring 5.6 cents worth of
long term value per square foot per month as you rent/lease your property? Do you think Main Street property
owners received that kind of value from the 1992 improvements? Did the improvements help to increase
property values since 1992? Share your opinion in the survey.

How does a Local Improvement District work?
Here are the general steps and rough time schedule:
   1. With property owner encouragement the City Council adopts a plan specifying the improvements, area
       to be improved and method of assessment. Preliminary assessment roles are prepared. (July-August
   2. City staff designs the project and sends it out for bid. (September-November 2009)
   3. A contractor is selected. (December 2009)
   4. Construction takes place. (April-September 2010)
   5. Upon completion of the project, the City totals all costs and determines the final assessment role.
       (November 2010)
   6. Some property owners pay the whole assessment immediately; others elect to pay over time via City
       issued bonds. (December 2010)
   7. The City sells bonds to finance the LID debt. (January 2011).
   8. Property owners start making payments to City on their share of the bond debt (January 2012)

This is a very brief summary. The dates are preliminary. The official process (available from the City, LID
Administrative Policy 98-6) has 84 steps.

Other Questions and Answers
Many questions need to be answered in order for property owners to accurately understand the process and
potential of expanded downtown improvements. In no particular order, here are questions that have been asked
so far:

My sidewalk has vaults underneath. How will that affect improvements?
Some buildings downtown have basements that extend under sidewalks. These are called vaults. The 1992
project required property owners with vaults to pay the cost of filling in the vault. If a property owner wishes to
keep a vault, they are responsible for any special construction costs. Schedule a visit from City engineering staff
and a long talk over a cup of coffee to understand particular concerns about your vault.

Will water/sewer/fire service hookups under sidewalks be affected?
During the 1992 project the City required any hookups under new sidewalks to be replaced in conjunction with
the construction. The intent was to avoid tearing up new sidewalk because an old service failed. We are still
talking to the City about how this will be handled and who pays costs.

My property already has fairly new sidewalks and a couple of street trees. Do I get credit on my LID
There is a process to petition for credit on LID assessments. To be honest, it takes effort and you may not get all
you want. One of the goals of a LID is uniformity of quality in improvements so as to enhance property values
over all. Exceptions can leave the improved area uneven in quality and defeat a purpose of the LID.

         Downtown Walla Walla Foundation            509.529.9755                  
Can I do the improvements myself and get credit for it against my LID assessment?
This is a variation on the previous question. There is a process to petition for credit on LID assessments for your
new work. All work has to meet codes, match project standards and be compatible for connection with work to
be done by the LID contractor. Plan to start early (in 2009) and be ready for detailed efforts. Please also realize
that you probably will not be able to credit away your whole LID assessment.

The 1992 project had most of the improvements along Main Street but property owners in surrounding blocks
paid as well. In the 2010 project are Main Street property owners going to return the favor?
The 1992 project had Main Street property owners paying $2.693 per square foot while surrounding blocks paid
$0.449 per square foot. That is a ratio 6 to 1. The assessment formula could have Main Street property owners
pay some of the 2010 project. Maybe the same ratio in reverse? Talk it over with your friends on Main Street and
tell us the result in the survey.

Can I reduce my LID overall costs if I pay early?
You can avoid bond interest and bond transaction fees by paying when final assessments are determined in early

How will customers get to businesses during construction?
It will take a lot of cooperation by the City, the project contractor and the DWWF. The project will be staged to
minimize the possibility that any business location will have simultaneous construction on all four sides. We did
it in 1992 and 2003. This will probably be a larger project that will take even more coordination. The DWWF will
organize a series of business promotions during the construction to keep up people’s interest. People were
curious in 1992; we will build on that curiosity.

The City owns property. Will the City pay a share of the LID like everyone else?
The City is not listed in the assessment rolls of he 1992 project but they did pay about $200,00o for utility work in
conjunction with the LID and paid another $200,00o from general funds toward project costs. The City
participated in a recent Abadie St. LID like other property owners. Have a cordial chat with your favorite City
Council member if you would like them to continue the policy.

Will the LID pay for maintenance of improvements?
No, LID’s can only pay for construction.

Will this project implement diagonal parking on Alder Street?
A couple of years ago a DWWF committee worked through the details of diagonal parking on Alder Street. There
was general consensus that it was a workable idea that would increase parking spaces. The project got stuck
because traffic lights did not extend far enough for good driver visibility. Replacing the lights is about $300,000
per intersection.

Will this project pay the cost of replacing traffic lights on Alder Street to implement diagonal parking?
The LID could pay. Some property owners have expressed concerns that traffic signals are primarily a City-wide
responsibility and shouldn't be part of an LID. Talk with your favorite City Council member about what you think
is a fair share for the downtown and the community.

Do churches and not-for-profits pay in a LID?
Churches and not-for-profit property owners were assessed in the 1992 LID.

Will the construction project be done at "government rates"?
This is a City project and will be subject to Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements.

         Downtown Walla Walla Foundation            509.529.9755                  
Leading up to the 1992 project we talked for at least a couple of years. Why such a short time frame to
consider and act?
A great deal of the discussion about 1992 was over the nature of improvements and whether they would really
benefit property owners. We now have a clear visual example of what an improved downtown looks like. We
have 17 years of property owner experience with benefits. If we want to act in 2010, there is time to answer
questions thoroughly but not a lot of time to waste. The decision must be made if the LID process is to start by
mid-summer so engineering work can begin.

How can anyone be proposing such a project in the current economic mess?
You are right; this is a bad time to be in business. Revenue is stagnant or decreasing for many. But there are
some things that make this a good time to consider this project:
    • Construction costs are off historic peaks and energy intensive materials (concrete and steel) are closer to
        historic levels. Contractors are hungry for work.
    • Interest rates on municipal bonds are at historically low levels.
    • Payments on the 1992 LID finished in 2008.
    • Property owners will not be making payments until 2012. We all hope for a turn-around by then.
    • We are going to have construction disruptions in 2010 anyway, we can do it all at once.
Right now is a difficult time to be in business but could be a very good time for a 2010 project that positions our
downtown for better times and keeps downtown as the focal point for the community.

Can this project be paid for with federal economic stimulus funds?
The project isn’t “shovel ready” enough to qualify for current stimulus funding requirements. We will keep our
eyes open for any new stimulus fund programs. City staff is to be congratulated for their initiative in garnering
$400,000 in federal pedestrian grant funds that are the seed for 2010. As the project firms up we can be watchful
for any portion that is a good match for other grant programs.

Will existing street trees be kept in the improved areas?
Existing mature trees will be examined by the City arborist for health above and below the sidewalk. The City
engineer will determine if the trees are compatible with needs for placing underground utilities and if roots are
at risk for raising new sidewalks. Mature trees are valuable and will be kept if healthy and compatible with the
overall project.

Additional questions, information and corrections are welcome. Contact the DWWF at 529-8755 or e-mail This document will be revised as additional information becomes available. Let us know if
you would like e-mail updates as revisions are made.

        Downtown Walla Walla Foundation            509.529.9755                  
2010 Downtown Improvements
Property Owner Survey
Please see the accompanying question and answer sheet for
background information for this survey. Return the survey by May 1st , 2009 to the
Downtown Walla Walla Foundation, 2 South First Ave Ste. 300, Walla Walla, WA 99362.

Was the 1992 project successful? If so, why? Or why not?

What, if anything, would you like to have been done differently?
In 1992, property owner assessments were based on ground level soil square footage of the property legal
description. Would you agree to that method for a 2010 project? If not, what method would you prefer?
Did the 1992 project produce a reasonable cost/benefit ratio for property owners? How did it affect monthly
lease/rental revenue and long term property values?
How would you propose that maintenance for 2010 improvements be funded?
Would a 2010 project make the downtown more attractive to tenants to help to reduce vacancies?

        Downtown Walla Walla Foundation           509.529.9755               
Project scope – please put a check by your preferences for each street or mark the map.
        Rose: 2nd to Palouse
        Rose: 5th to Palouse
        Rose: 7th to Palouse
        Rose: 9th to Palouse

       extend Main to 6th
       extend Main to 7th
       extend Main to 9th

       Alder: 2nd to Spokane
       Alder: 5th to Spokane
       Alder: 7th to Spokane
       Alder: 9th to Spokane

       part of Poplar (specify)

Over what time period
should a LID be re-paid?                       Highlighted areas on the map are 1992 improvements.
        10 years
        12 years                  Comments/other ideas on project scope:_______________________________
        15 years                  _________________________________________________________________
        18 years                  _________________________________________________________________
        20 years                  _________________________________________________________________

Please put a check in each row to indicate your preference of improvement features.
                                          High        Medium       Low      Not               Lack
                                          priority    priority     priority needed            information
brick pavers-3 to 5 foot wide strip
ornamental street lights, 3 per
block face, underground utilities
street trees, 5 per block face with tree
grates, irrigation, power for lights
sidewalks-assuming approximately ½
need replacement
bike racks, 2 per block face
benches, 2 per block face
garbage bins, 2 per block face

If convinced of the need, would you as a property owner support a LID?
         Not sure at this time, I need additional information about:

        Downtown Walla Walla Foundation           509.529.9755                      
Would you be willing to support the LID process in one of these ways?
       Serve on a LID organization committee
       Explain the LID to other property owners
       Serve on a property owners advisory committee
       Serve on a merchant’s committee during construction
       Other: _____________________________________

Who should we be sure to ask to help guide/inform the process?
What added ideas or suggestions do you have which will be helpful in evaluating this decision?

Below are questions not directly related to 2010 Downtown Improvements, but will serve to improve planning

Are there additional needs that seem important to you which are not covered by the current master plan?
How would you describe the present local economic climate in our community?

Is the present local economic climate in our community improving, remaining the same, or declining?
         Remaining the Same

        Downtown Walla Walla Foundation           509.529.9755                
Are junior box stores (e.g. Bed, Bath & Beyond, Payless Shoes, etc) desirable in our downtown? Would the 2010
improvements help to attract that kind of tenant?
What other kinds of retailing or tenants are needed downtown?

Anything else you would like to say?

Thanks very much for your time and effort.

If you would like us to get back to you directly on any questions you have raised in the survey, please let us know
the best way to contact you:

Name: ____________________
Address: __________________
Phone: ___________________
Email: ___________________

Please return the survey by Friday, May 1st, 2009 to the DWWF at 2 South First Ave, Ste. 300, Walla
Walla, WA 99362. There will be an informat ional meet ing with survey results on Monday, May 11th at
7pm at the Marcus Whitman Hotel.

         Downtown Walla Walla Foundation           509.529.9755