On September 5, 2017, the City Council adopted Resolution No. 6251 to create the Downtown Redevelopment Coordinating Committee. The 10-member citizen committee is chaired by Councilman Curt Dougherty.
The purpose of the committee is to advance neighborhood stabilization and economic development in downtown Independence, which is bounded by Noland Road to the east, Lexington Avenue/Pacific Avenue to the south, Winner Road to the south and west; and US 24 Highway to the north, and adjacent properties, specifically including the neighborhood and business districts of Englewood, Fairmount, Maywood, and the Independence Square. The Committee may make recommendations regarding areas outside of downtown Independence if those recommendations enhance coordination with downtown projects and initiatives, or otherwise serve the best interests of the City of Independence.
The committee held four meetings this fall including three site visits to Gladstone, Lenexa and Lee's Summit to learn about downtown redevelopment efforts in peer communities. Next the committee will begin meeting with city staff and community stakeholders to learn about the key priorities identified in adopted plans for the focus area. Fourteen plans will be evaluated including the Square Revitalization Plan, Englewood Art District Circulation Plan, City Hall Master Plan (in progress) and Tourism & Historic Sites Master Plan. The 2017 Deferred Maintenance Report will also be evaluated for priorities within the focus area.
All the plans were developed to improve Independence, but the goals and prioritization of the impacts may vary. The Downtown Redevelopment Coordinating Committee is tasked with understanding those differences and pulling the prior work into a larger strategic plan with a total economic benefit that is greater than the sum of the parts. The challenge is not merely to combine 14 unimplemented plans into a single plan, but to fully assess the prior work, determine which priorities are still relevant, and craft an actionable plan of implementation.
At the last Downtown Redevelopment Coordinating Committee meeting, members asked many good questions about next steps in the process and developing the financing plan. It became apparent in that discussion that additional support would help the Committee complete its ambitious objectives and stay on schedule to report back to the City Council toward the end of summer 2018.
A representative of the Committee will attend the January 3 City Council meeting to request an allocation of up to $50,000 of Council Goals funds to engage professional services to help the Committee develop a plan of implementation. A resolution is drafted to allocate the funds and direct the city manager to execute a contract for services. In general, the scope of work will include the following:
- Develop criteria for evaluating 14 plans.
- Meet with the committee to review and finalize the criteria.
- Analyze all plans based on the criteria, concurrent with committee meetings to engage stakeholder input on plan priorities.
- Develop a prioritization matrix for projects and initiatives within the plans to identify an implementation sequence.
- Research existing and potential funding sources to develop a plan of finance to implement priorities.
- Develop a draft plan of implementation.
- Work with the committee to review and finalize all recommendations for presentation to the City Council.