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Old Town Alexandria Scraps Plan To Create A BID

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1006 King Street Alexandria
Old Town Alexandria's 1004 King St., a vacant storefront formerly home to European Country Living that Asana acquired in May.

After more than a year of discussions between Old Town Alexandria business leaders and city officials about creating a business improvement district, the proposal has failed. 

The exploratory committee decided it did not have strong enough support from the business community, and City Manager Mark Links told the City Council Tuesday it was abandoning the effort, the Washington Business Journal reports.  

Organizations such as the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership pushed the BID proposal as a way to combat retail vacancy and better compete with other submarkets. As emerging waterfront areas like Capitol Riverfront, National Harbor and The Wharf have attracted businesses, Old Town has often been overlooked. Its retail vacancy has risen from 5% to 10% in the last two years, according to Dochter & Alexander Retail Advisors' most recent market report.

Some business owners did not buy into the idea of contributing more taxes for neighborhood services and branding. Some put up signs in store windows saying "No BID Tax" or "Ban The Bid." 

Even without a BID, Old Town's retail market does have some promising new momentum. Charlotte, North Carolina-based Asana Partners, founded by former Edens executives, has invested more than $100M to acquire more than 20 retail properties on the King Street corridor since December. Asana Managing Director Robin Hilliard, speaking at a Bisnow event last month, said the company plans to renovate the properties and hopes to bring in new retailers from restaurants to high-end soft goods.