Workshops set on design rules for downtown
A $120,000 revolving loan fund has been established to help downtown property owners finance upgrades to the exteriors of their buildings.
The fae improvements are part of a larger $713,605 downtown Tonganoxie renovation project that includes new sidewalks, lights and storm sewers.
Any property owner who borrows from that fund will be required to follow design guidelines that will be established in the next few months by a Kansas City, Mo., firm.
During a meeting at 3 p.m. next Tuesday at city council chambers, representatives of Historic Preservation Services will conduct a workshop with business and property owners along Fourth Street to begin mapping out design guidelines.
This will be the first of three workshops to work on development of the guidelines.
"Through these workshops, we hope to involve the business and property owners in a series of exercises to look at what they feel is important visually about downtown Tonganoxie, and what are the qualities they would like to see saved and enhanced, " said Elizabeth Rosin, a partner with Historic Preservation Services.
Money borrowed from the fund will carry no interest, and the lengths of loans will vary, according to Chris Eppley, city administrator.
The fund as well as other Fourth Street improvements are financed by federal Community Development Block Grants that are administered by the state.
"The state is asking the city to prepare these design guidelines to make sure that changes to the older buildings, in particular, are
consistent with federal guidelines for changes to historic buildings," Rosin said. '' I think the city's idea is to make a more visually cohesive downtown."
The main area that the design guidelines will apply to is along Fourth Street, between Green and Pleasant streets.
Friday's workshop, Rosin said, will consist primarily of a brainstorming session.
"This first workshop is to make people aware of what's going on and get them started thinking about some issues," she said.
The two other sessions, which haven't been scheduled, won't occur until after the first of next year, said Rosin, whose firm is being paid $15,000 for its services.
If property owners do not take advantage of the loan fund, Rosin said, they wouldn't be required to follow the design guidelines.
Meanwhile, workers continue to make their way east on Fourth Street, tearing out and replacing sidewalks as part of the overall downtown renovation.
"This is quite a project, and the city and the state and business owners have all come together on it to make it a reality," Eppley said. "I think we're going to have one heck of a project for the dollar."
Because of unseasonably warm weather, work has progressed more quickly than anticipated.
"I don't want to get anybody's hopes up, but they think they can get the majority of the work done, except for the landscaping which will have to wait until spring, by February," Eppley said. "All of that depends on the weather."
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