Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Business Improvement District, or a BISD?

Business improvement service districts (BISD) are defined areas in a city or county in which property owners pay an additional, annual special tax (on top of the standard real property taxes) which is utilized to promote and improve the business environment within the BISD. BISDs are typically governed by a dedicated board of directors and are led by an executive director and key staff. BISDs organize and manage services, activities and events in the BISD, as well as arrange amenities above and beyond what a city or county would typically provide.

A business improvement service district is term utilized for a BID in Virginia, consistent with the Code of Virginia, Title 15.2-2400.

After the pandemic, it became abundantly clear that Old Town needed an organization dedicated to its specific needs. One organization to manage events, to market to a targeted regional audience, to serve as one voice with City Council and staff, and to help new and existing businesses grow and flourish. Old Town Business is a volunteer-led organization with a very small budget which makes sustainability difficult and growth impossible. As a BISD, Old Town Business could do more with more. Considering the increase in competition in the DC Metro Area, in Alexandria, and online, the time has come to invest in the economic sustainability and growth of Old Town.

Click here to see the map of the OTB-BISD and the description

A special district tax will be billed to certain parcels of property in the OTB-BISD. The special tax will be billed alongside the City’s standard real property tax. Click here to learn more about the special district tax.

Click here to learn more about the OTB-BISD tax

No. Parcels that exempt from real property taxes, as determined by the City on annual basis, will not be billed that year’s Old Town Business – Business Improvement Service District tax.

No. Parcels that used solely for residential purposes, as determined by the City on annual basis, will not be billed that year’s Old Town Business – Business Improvement Service District tax.


The OTB-BISD will be led by and managed by an Executive Director. The OTB-BISD is expected to have between two and four staff members. The OTB-BISD will be governed by a Board of Directors. Click here to learn more about the governance of the OTB-BISD.

Click here to learn more about the Board of Directors.

OTB-BISD aims to create an Associate Membership for those that own property or businesses outside of the BISD.  Details on services offered and price are to come.

Yes. Click here for a printable version of the petition. Once executed, please provide it to Old Town Business by either of the following methods:

Mail to:

Old Town Business
P.O. Box 1294
Alexandria, VA  22313


Email to: [email protected]

Old Town Business plans to begin the formal approval process with Alexandria City Council in March, with the goal of having the OTB-BISD fully approved later this spring.

The deadline for submission is May 31, 2023.

Old Town Business needs 60% of the property owner’s support to sign the petition.

Individuals can share the link to our website and the petition with fellow Alexandria business owners who would reside in the BISD.

The current Old Town Business board will nominate a slate of directors. Old Town Business expects that the proposed slate of directors will be approved by City Council. If you are interested in putting your name forward as a potential nominee, or know of someone you think would be a good board member, then please email [email protected].

Visit Alexandria is responsible for marketing all of Alexandria. As such, its marketing focuses primarily on citywide content and signature events like the holidays, Portside Festival, and Restaurant Weeks. Visit Alexandria is responsible for driving overnight visitation by branding and building awareness of the City among drive and fly market audiences. In contrast, the OTB-BISD will market the area within the OTB-BISD boundary and will target regional audiences in metro DC, Maryland and northern Virginia.

The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce is a Business-to-Business organization, focused on the entire City, which does not focus its marketing to consumer audiences. In contrast, the OTB-BISD will focus on the area within the OTB-BISD boundary and will target consumer audiences in its marketing efforts.

The first OTB-BISD Board of Directors, which will have been approved by City Council, will conduct a search for the first Executive Director.

The OTB-BISD will provide services that are targeted towards non-residential properties. Consistent with this intent, properties that are solely residential, as determined by the City on annual basis, will not pay the OTB-BISD tax. As such, residents shall have their appropriate and important representation through two non-voting members.

There are two main differences between the proposed OTB-BISD and the business improvement district proposed in 2017. First, the proposed OTB-BISD is smaller and more concentrated on the heart of Old Town. Second, the governance of the OTB-BISD is simpler, providing control through a Board of Directors and an Executive Director.