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Leesburg Town Council Seeks Public Input on Proposed Arts & Cultural District | Arts & Culture

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Leesburg Town Council Seeks Public Input on Proposed Arts & Cultural District
Leesburg Town Council Seeks Public Input on Proposed Arts & Cultural District

Public hearing will be held on Tuesday, March 8, 2011

From the Town of Leesburg – The Leesburg Town Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed creation of an “Arts & Cultural District,” intended to spur the development of arts and entertainment businesses in the Historic Downtown and adjacent areas.  The public hearing will take place at the Town Council meeting on Tuesday, March 8, 2011, at 7:30 p.m., in the Leesburg Town Hall (25 West Market Street).

The proposal to establish the new Arts & Cultural District is a joint effort by the Leesburg Economic Development Commission and the Leesburg Commission on Public Art.  In 2009, new enabling legislation was enacted by the Commonwealth that allows any municipality in Virginia to create such a district and to offer incentives in the form of tax breaks, special zoning and exemptions from local ordinances to encourage targeted businesses to locate within the district.  Following the passage of this legislation, the Economic Development Commission and Commission on Public Art formed a joint task force to explore the possibilities for Leesburg.  In August 2010, the task force made a presentation to the Town Council, which then passed a resolution directing the task force to conduct a detailed analysis and submit a draft ordinance that would create the district.  At the Town Council work session on February 7, 2011, the task force presented their findings.  A copy of the presentation is available on the Town website at www.leesburgva.gov/news.

The draft Arts & Cultural District ordinance defines three things: 

1.      The proposed district boundaries

2.      The incentives to be offered

3.      The businesses eligible to receive incentives

The proposed Leesburg Arts & Cultural District encompasses the commercial areas of the Historic Downtown, plus an area to the south and east of the downtown, generally bounded by South King Street, Catoctin Circle and Edwards Ferry Road.  Recommended incentives include rebates on business, professional & occupation license taxes (BPOL), rebates on real estate taxes and zoning permit exemptions.  Eligible businesses include theaters, art galleries, dance studios, music venues, performance spaces and art schools and academies.   The draft ordinance does provide opportunities for existing businesses to receive incentives for expansions or improvements.

“The intent of the proposed Arts & Cultural District is to strengthen the creative community with a sustainable model that capitalizes on the unique assets of Leesburg,” explained Marantha Edwards, Leesburg’s Economic Development Manager.  “A number of other communities in Virginia have recently created Arts & Cultural Districts using this new economic development tool.  We hope to build on the existing arts community to transform Leesburg into an arts destination.”