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Posted August 7, 2012 | comments 12 Comments

Strasburg eyes arts, tourism district

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

STRASBURG -- A new arts and tourism district in Strasburg could draw more businesses downtown, according to supporters of the proposal.

Town Council at a work session Monday endorsed adopting an ordinance that would create an arts and tourism district. After some debate on the matter, a majority of council agreed the district should cover a smaller area than proposed originally by town staff and the ordinance committee.

The intent of the ordinance is to provide incentives for certain types of businesses to locate in the district, Town Manager Judson Rex explained to council. Incentives include a discount on the business owner's utility bill of up to 50 percent and the elimination of the license fee for five years.

Officials advised that while the incentives -- such as discounts on utility costs and license fees -- could attract businesses, the town may see a loss in revenue. But the incentives should spur owners to put the extra cash back in their businesses and, coupled with more proprietors locating in the district, would ideally bring more revenue to the town, officials said.

Rex explained to council the fiscal impact to the town based solely on if the incentives were implemented and used by the existing businesses in the proposed district. The town could lose an estimated $33,000 in revenue to the three impacted funds, according to Rex.

Several council members supported the utility bill discount but set at a sliding scale, giving a high percentage cut to those businesses that use less water, a smaller reduction for those that use more. The sliding scale will be included in the proposed ordinance when it comes back before council.

The proposed ordinance calls for the creation of the district, which would span West and East King Street, from Capon Street to the railroad tracks past Acton Place. Several council members expressed a need to include Hotel Strasburg, at 213 S. Holliday St., in the district because of its connection to downtown businesses and tourism.

At least one council member said he supported creating a district with all four areas included as originally proposed and presented at the meeting. The district as endorsed calls for the area to include South Holliday Street from King Street, past Queen Street, and to cover Hotel Strasburg.

According to a map of the proposed district, the area extends north almost to Washington Street. The original proposal included an area north of King Street, covering Washington Street from the railroad tracks to Capon Street. The proposed map also includes two more areas -- Queen Street from Capon Street to the railroad tracks, and High Street from Capon Street to South Massanutten Street.

Rex explained to council that they could at any time in the future add the other areas to the district. Some council members expressed an interest in keeping the district small at first to see if the incentives work. Others wanted to include all areas, even at the risk of a higher fiscal impact to the town.

12 Comments | Leave a comment

    Why don't we stop creating districts, planning for sidewalks w/ bump outs that no one wants, and just clean up and enjoy the pretty little town that we've got? Progress isn't always about spending money and changing things, but often is about making the most of what you've already got.

    Yep, got to love them bumpouts. Warren memorial hospital in Front royal added them and wow they are great....just joking. And gosh you have to love them ones near the old court house in woodstock....they are so lovely in the mornings...ha ha.

    And yes, got to love driving through Strasburg at mayfest time, almost like making the mistake of getting near winchester at apple blossom time. Ok i'm not all complaints here, because I will be doing the route 11 crawl on saturday.

    Hey, Sister, don't drive through strasburg tonight, you will definately get pulled over with that headlight out!

    Not a terrible idea. Not in the same boat as the streetscape project that is going to cost us money to complete and the cost us money down the road to maintain. Still the best ideaology for the town to adopt would be one of common sense frugality and then lower business and citizen taxes. I don't see that happening, anytime soon anyway.

    Here's the solution to Strasburg's perennial identity crisis...close down King Street between Massanutten and Fort Street, pave it with brick and call it a pedestrian mall, then build a bypass from Food Lion through the "Cedar-less" valley over to 55.

      Only if you want to live in a ghost town. Seriously (and assumng this comment wasn't made as a joke), there are nowhere near enough people in this area to support a pedesrtian mall downtown. It works in Savannah and Charlottesville because of the numbers. It doesn't work in Winchester and it definitely will not work in Strasburg any time soon.

    Here they go again with some more incentives. Throwing their crusty little bread crumbs out to entice some boozes to invest in the town of great expectations. One thing you can say about this place. You never know what the great wizard of the Town Council is going to pull out of his hat next. I am quite sure this idea is at least good to draw in a Macy's or Sears knocking down the Town Hall doors to get a permit. When a man is drowning I guess he will grab for anything to save himself. Good luck with this venture.

    Why does the town have to keep machine gunning these rules and regulation down our throats faster than we can except them? I'm getting damn tired of it! And I'm getting tired of talking about the damn bumpouts. The town can stick the whole enhancement project where the sun don't shine for all I care. They are going to do what they want to do anyway. Those work sessions are just a bunch of diddlysquat.

    Well thought Id log in and see comments. EVERY time theres ANY article having to do with Strasburg all I see in the comments are negative things. I LOVE Strasburg. and my comment for this article is just that. Positive.

    I used to love Strasburg too. It used to be a great town. I just wish I could afford to bathe everyday and flush my toilet more.

    ahh i guarentee! If I lived in a smaller community with upgrades to water and sewer. it would be crazy with prices with water and sewer. You almost wished you lived in the county in an old fixer upper with a conventional septic system and a newer well. I've heard nightmared in smaller communities north of you! It's been while since I'f lived in city/muniipality limit but I would probably be pissin behind the tree and hoping for midnight shower so I could lather my hair with shampoo!

    you know where you should put the art/tourism office, is up at signal knob where the tower is for i think public radio/televisoin is! I tell you what wow that is a great view of the town. It would take me a bit longer to hike it now when I could a few years back, but wow a nice view of the town.

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