One alderman said it’s time for the city to begin work to craft a historic-downtown zoning district to aid the Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) grant awarded to the city.
Alderman Carol Johnson said the city needs to do its part to make sure the MMSC program to revitalize downtown is successful.
As acting president of the board of aldermen, Johnson chaired the Nov. 7 meeting in the absence of Mayor Jeff Palmore.
Johnson said she recently became aware that a historic-downtown zoning district could be beneficial to the property owners and businesses as MMSC helps the Pacific Main Street leaders tap available funding for downtown revitalization.
The Pacific Partnership applied for and was awarded the grant, in cooperation with the city and the Pacific Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Pacific Partnership has formed a committee of downtown stakeholders, the city and Chamber to choreograph the downtown revitalization.
Johnson addressed her remarks to Stephen Flannery III, Partnership president.
“We (the city) joined the Partnership to get the Missouri Main Street grant,” she said. “We are part of this and we need to do our part to make it work.”
Johnson said she read in The Missourian that Flannery had said a special downtown district would help property owners and businesses qualify for some financial assistance.
She said the city had discussed creating a special district for old town in the past. The downtown district had been included in early drafts of the recently completed comprehensive plan but was later removed.
“I wanted to start the dialogue on this,” Johnson said. “We need to get this back on the table.”
Flannery said the Partnership had been focused on downtown redevelopment for quite a while.
“We even talked with former Mayor Herb Adams about this (a downtown district),” Flannery said. “It does provide tools to help historic districts give residents and building owners the opportunity to take advantage of certain tax credits that are available.”
He also noted that some downtown buildings are 100-plus years old and cannot meet building codes written for structures that are built now.
“This (historic district) is one program and one way to help traditional downtown districts revitalize, along with many other programs, such as CID districts, NAP grants, CDBG grants and Heritage Festival grants,” Flannery said. “This is one piece of the puzzle to have to aid economic vitality downtown.”
Alderman Nick Chlebowski said before writing an ordinance creating a special district he wants to do some research to determine the scope of the new district.
“We need to look at what we’d want to include in a district like that,” Chlebowski said. “I want to look at the federal agencies that provide these grants to see what they are looking for.”
Flannery said when the city applied for the grant one step was to define a downtown district.
“The Partnership has been pushing to get a paradigm change to define the boundaries of downtown,” Flannery said.
One step the Partnership has taken is to map out the parameters of a historic district.
“It may need to be tweaked for ordinance, but there is a springboard there for mapping a downtown district,” Flannery said.
Johnson said she’s not calling for a downtown district ordinance to be crafted immediately, but wants to start the dialogue.
“We (the city) have money invested in this plan and I want to see some results,” she said. “I want to look at what we need to put in a downtown zoning district.”
“We are a partner in this and we need to step forward,” Johnson said.