Rob Stokes says private investment in public spaces will transform cityPosted by On

The districts – which are common in New York and London, but not in Sydney – are formed by private property owners and businesses within a certain area, and require members to pay a levy that funds services and events within its boundaries.

Sydney’s first and only business improvement district – the New Sydney Waterfront Company, a pilot spanning Barangaroo, Pyrmont and Blackwattle Bay – is being helmed by Jace Tyrrell, who formerly led the equivalent initiative in London’s West End.

What is a business improvement district?

A business improvement district (BID) is a defined area within a certain area and businesses contribute a levy to fund agreed projects within the district’s boundaries. They have historically funded services and activities that are perceived as being inadequately performed by government. The model emerged in North America in the 1950s, and there are about 3000 individual districts in the world, largely concentrated in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

Stokes said the districts had been “hugely successful” in activating public spaces in other global cities.

For example, Bryant Park in New York was transformed from a place of crime to a thriving community centre throughout the 1980s, partly due to funding from a corporation composed of several nearby businesses.

“Wynyard Park could become Sydney’s answer to New York City’s Bryant Park, a real example of how government can work with the business community to…

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