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BIDDING ON URBANITY WITH BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICTS:

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BIDDING ON URBANITY WITH BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICTS: RE-MAKING URBAN PLACES IN WASHINGTON, DC Susanna Francesca Schaller, Ph.D. Cornell University 2007

?The livable city,? one that offers street-level, neighborhood life, cultural and ethnic diversity as well as a broad choice of entertainment venues and businesses, has become the catch-all phrase to encapsulate the vision of city life employed to attract a class of potential urbanites who are viewed as key to maintaining and bolstering the tax-bases of fiscally strapped city governments (Florida 2002, Kearns and Philo 1993). Harnessing this competitive advantage that cities have over their suburban neighbors requires cleaning up commercial spaces and marketing images free of deterioration (Florida 2002, Philo and Kearns 1993, Holcomb 1993). Business improvement districts (BID) have become a tool to secure perceptions of safety and attractiveness for new residents, businesses, and tourists and to stimulate reinvestment in urban retail and residential development. BIDs have become key actors in planning for and managing these efforts.
BIDs privilege the rights of commercial property owners in the governance of local districts and draw artificial boundaries between the residential and commercial life of neighborhoods. Thus, their uniform application, particularly, in ethnically and economically diverse urban neighborhoods, masks struggles over neighborhood boundaries, identities, property values and rents. The following questions guide this dissertation: ? What interest-alignments underlie the wide-spread institution of place-making economic development strategies such as BIDs?
o For whom and by whom are these urban places produced? o Whose visions of place are incorporated and whose are left out? In order to address a specific lacuna in the literature on BIDs, this dissertation examines the BID establishment process that unfolded in one of the most ethnically and economically diverse areas in Washington, DC. In order to understand local level interest alignments that support the formation of BIDs in the context of larger economic and political processes affecting urban governance, the research is designed as a nested case study based in the extended case method, elaborated by Burawoy (1991). This design places the neighborhood case study area within the context of a shift toward entrepreneurial city governance in DC, keeping in mind the historical layering of territorial struggles that shape DC?s geographic, social and political landscape (Harvey 2005).

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2007-05-04T16:10:40Z

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Business Improvement Districts; Urban Economic Development

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Government Document

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dissertation or thesis

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