An effort to detail the history and preservation-worthiness of buildings in the Westport area has earned the final financial push it needed from a Kansas City Council committee.
The nonprofit Historic Kansas City organization now will sign a contract with Elizabeth Rosin, with Rosin Preservation, to inventory buildings in the area stretching a few blocks east and west of Broadway, generally bounded by 39th and 43rd streets.
The effort is sparked by neighborhood concerns that new development proposals endanger the character of “Old Westport.”
The city’s Planning, Zoning and Economic Development committee on Wednesday allocated $5,000, left over from a completed tax increment financing project, to supplement about $20,000 raised from neighborhood groups and preservationists in a GoFundMe drive.
The study is expected to cost $25,000 and take five or six months to complete.
“I see the value of having an analysis done so there can be a historical prioritization of the 400 or so structures in historic Westport,” said council committee chairman Scott Taylor, who proposed the allocation. “I thought this was a good opportunity for my committee to work with Historic Kansas City on this project.”
The council approved the allocation Thursday afternoon.
Lisa Briscoe, executive director of Historic Kansas City, said the inventory will be an important tool “so that as development issues arise, we have good information about what is worthy of preservation.”
Preservation-minded residents were stunned earlier this year to learn that official designation of Westport as a historic district had never been sought or obtained.
The inventory will determine which buildings meet National Register standards and whether the district might, like the downtown Garment or River Market districts, qualify for district preservation status.
“This knowledge needs to be part of the (development) planning process,” Briscoe said. “What balance do we need to work with developers? The city has many tools beyond historic district status, such as zoning overlays to control development. This will help determine what tools to use.”
Area residents and business owners were spurred to action after two major development proposals for large multiuse complexes were submitted for the heart of Westport.
Opus Development has proposed a six-story, 256-unit apartment and retail project to replace the Bank of America building at the southeast corner of Westport and Broadway.
Pulse Development has proposed a seven-story, 159-unit apartment building with retail and office space on the lower floors and a nine-story hotel building with 120 hotel beds and 46 lofts on the 4000 block of Pennsylvania, next to Manor Square.