ST. CLOUD -- Property owners in downtown St. Cloud are being asked to assess themselves in an effort to make improvements to the area. The creation of a Downtown Improvement District has been in the works for a couple of years now.

Tom Grones is the chair of the Downtown Improvement District steering committee. He says the first step was to survey the roughly 300 downtown property owners to find out what their major concerns are.

The major concerns were maintenance and cleanliness, marketing and event strategies, street vitality, safety and security, and then economic vitality were the primary concerns of those who returned the survey.

Grones says they want to make sure they have broad support for the idea before they move forward.

What's important to me is that this has the significant support from the commercial property owners.  So I want to stress that nothing is set in concrete right now, we're still gathering information.  I'm happy to say I haven't been thrown out of anyone's office yet.

The boundaries for the Downtown Improvement District would be 1st Street North to Division Street and the Mississippi River to the former Wendy's building.

The special assessment to the roughly 300 property owners would collect about $350,000 a year.

It would be used for things like maintenance, marketing, and special events for the downtown.

Before it could become a reality, the property owners would have to create a petition and bring it to the city council. The city council would then hold a public hearing and ultimately decide the outcome. The Downtown Improvement District would then need to be re-approved annually.

Grones says, if there's enough support for the idea, it could begin as soon as January. He says if they can get it established, there are a few things he'd like to see get done right away.

I would clean the place up.  Having walked downtown recently it needs a little bit of gussying up, needs to be greener, needs to be more vibrant in its presentation.

Duluth, Rochester, Sioux Falls, Fargo, Omaha, and Des Moines all have similar Improvement Districts to enhance their downtowns.

A similar idea was introduced here in St. Cloud back in 2006, but that failed to get enough support from property owners.