On Monday, the Davis and City Council collaborated with the Davis Downtown Business Association to work out details of a multi-media marketing campaign that would focus on downtown spending.
Target contributed $100,000 to the city for public safety, parking and streetscape enhancements as well as other community enhancement projects. Free from restrictions, the city can choose to spend the funds whichever way it sees fit.
The city staff differs in opinion from the DDBA on how much money should be allocated to the campaign. Though it wishes to allocate $65,000 to the DDBA, the DDBA would like to use all $100,000. The Davis City Council voted to allocate $50,000 to the DDBA.
The DDBA believes opening Target would have unfavorable effects on downtown business unless measures are taken to attract new shoppers while retaining the old ones, especially during the recession.
Many Davis citizens shared this concern in 2006 when boardmembers made the decision to open Target. For these reasons, the DDBA proposal sets forth a multi-media marketing campaign, which includes funding for research, conceptual planning, brochures, shopping bags, radio, newspaper, magazine, online, TV, outdoor advertising and direct mail – totaling the entire $100,000.
DDBA members would like the campaign to begin around the opening date of Target sometime in October and run from six to 12 months.
The city staff responded to the proposal with both support and doubt.
“It’s not so much that the proposal has weaknesses, it’s more that the proposal is in initial stages and needs to be fleshed out,” said Kelly Stachowitz, Deputy City Manager. “The major weakness is simply that, with limited funds, it’s tough to do all the things they are proposing and still be able to do them well.”
Stachowitz said that the staff recommendation asks for authorization to work with DDBA to come up with a plan not exceeding $65,000. City staff believes there are other needs that are equally pressing to spend the remainder of the money on.
Such needs include a yearlong holiday tree and funding for UDASH, a shuttle that operates during lunch hours to carry people from campus to downtown. The tree would cost between $8,000 and $15,000.
While acknowledging its pitfalls, the city staff also sees positives in the proposal.
First, it believes that the approach is comprehensive and strategic, which will help to make the most of limited funds. Second, it sees the DDBA’s proactive marketing techniques as a positive effect on the entire community.
“We believe that DDBA should receive all of the funds whereas the staff wants to hold back $10,000 for community winter tree for the Tree Lighting Ceremony in December and $25,000 for the potential support of UCD UDASH bus service to downtown,” said Jennifer Anderson, co-president of the DDBA.
Anderson said that while the DDBA does not agree, it is also concerned that Target’s opening will negatively impact downtown businesses and retail sales tax collection.
Prospects for achieving tangible agreements seem likely to occur during the council’s August recess.
“Downtown Davis must be enhanced and maintained as a bike-and-pedestrian friendly place where shopping and dining thrives, with an on-going pulse of energy and activity,” said DDBA administrator Joy Cohan.
ELENI STEPHANIDES can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: August 10, 2009 – The original article incorrectly stated that the Woodland City Council participated in the discussion. The Davis City Council was the only governing body involved. Additionally, the original article incorrectly stated that no commitment had been made by the City Council. In fact, the City Council voted to allocate $50,000 to the Downtown Davis Business Association.