The city is on schedule to have a new nonprofit in place by early next year to manage downtown services for business and property owners and visitors to the city’s core.
A steering committee established by the Downtown Coordinating Council unanimously approved a recommendation from Progressive Urban Management Associates to establish a public-private model to provide services.
“The way that we have the Downtown Coordinating Council established as a portion of the city within a department in the city is extremely rare for the effective management of the services across the country,” said Brian Kurtz, executive director of DCC.
Kurtz said the new nonprofit structure would provide two primary benefits over the DCC: the ability to raise private funds to enhance existing services and add new ones, and the capacity to be flexible.
He noted, for example, that cities across the country with public/private partnerships providing downtown management services have been better situated to respond quickly to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They were able to very quickly stop their efforts and direct resources, whether it was financial, staff, or otherwise, into brand-new programs and services that they hadn’t even thought about the month before,” Kurtz said. “And that, while possible within the city system, sometimes takes time to incorporate.”
The DCC is funded through an assessment paid by property owners within the Tulsa Stadium Improvement District, which includes all properties within the Inner Dispersal Loop.
The DCC budget for this fiscal year is $1.2 million. That figure could increase by $100,000 to $250,000 the first year the new model is in place, with the potential for funding to reach approximately $2.5 million over the next five years, according to PUMA’s report to the DCC.
The DCC employs three full-time employees and one part-time employee. It is overseen by a 19-member board.
Under the proposed reorganization, there would be three boards: a Downtown Tulsa Partnership Board (15-19 members); a Business Improvement District Advisory Board (9 to 11 members, all property owners); and a Downtown Tulsa Ventures Board.
“Built into this is an advisory board that is made up exclusively of property owners that is going to advise and oversee how the improvement district dollars and revenue are spent,” Kurtz said.
The new model would represent an increase in the number of downtown stakeholders represented in the organizational level.
The public dollars provided to the new nonprofit will remain subject to public scrutiny, Kurtz said.
“Those funds and how those funds are spent, where those funds are spent, are going to remain public,” he said.
Kurtz noted that the new nonprofit will also be required to complete an IRS 990 form annually detailing its spending.
The Downtown Coordinating Council was established by executive order in 2009 to replace Downtown Tulsa Unlimited, a nonprofit formed in 1957 with the goal of bringing merchants back to downtown following the development of Utica Square.
The DCC will host virtual forums to present the details of the proposed reorganization at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 11 and at noon Aug. 12. Register online at downtowntulsaok.com.
Video: State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and Tulsa Superintendent Deborah Gist in a “Back to School” Let’s Talk town hall.
Cool downtown office space: You probably wish your workplace looked more like this
Kevin Canfield 918-645-5452
Be the first to know
Get local news delivered to your inbox!