Business Improvement Districts and the Shape of American Cities

By Jerry Mitchell

Subjects: Urban And Regional Planning, State And Local Politics, Public Policy
Series: SUNY series in Urban Public Policy
Paperback : 9780791473108, 160 pages, January 2009
Hardcover : 9780791473092, 160 pages, January 2008

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Table of contents

1. The Shape of City Places
2. Historical Connections
3. The BID Approach
4. The Organization of Innovation
5. Making a Difference
6. Evaluating Evaluations
7. The Prospects for BIDs

Examines the impact of business improvement districts on the quality of contemporary civic life.


Jerry Mitchell provides a comprehensive analysis of business improvement districts (BIDs)—public-private partnerships that shape city places into enticing destinations for people to work, live, and have fun. Responsible for the revitalization of New York's Times Square and Seattle's Pioneer Square, BIDs operate in large cities and small towns throughout the United States. Mitchell examines the reasons for their emergence, the ways they are organized and financed, the types of services they provide, their performance, their advantages and disadvantages, and their future prospects.

Jerry Mitchell is Professor of Public Affairs at Baruch College, the City University of New York, and the author of The American Experiment with Government Corporations.


"…provides a useful overview of the organization and operation of BIDs … a solid, readable introduction. " — Economic Development Quarterly

"…recommended for any reader looking for a good unbiased introduction to BIDs and the growing literature and public discussion about them. " — Public Administration Review

"Reading about special taxing districts could be as dry as downtown Phoenix in June, but Mitchell makes it interesting. In the first half of the book, he places BIDs … squarely in urban historical context … The first half … also serves as a useful resource on American city planning theory. " — Journal of the American Planning Association

"Mitchell does a superb job of placing these important, recently arrived institutional actors on the urban revitalization stage into their historical policy context and nicely presents them in their appropriate place in the broad framework of American political and social thought. The book skillfully bridges questions central to public administration, urban planning, real estate, and political science, and will not only be invaluable to interdisciplinary scholars but also to local officials, including the thousands of people who staff and sit on BID governing boards and need to appreciate the wider framework in which they should view their mission. This is a seminal work. " — Dennis C. Muniak, Towson University