Archive for Wednesday, December 15, 1999

Discussions get under way on downtown design rules

December 15, 1999

Most downtown Tonganoxie business and property owners attending a workshop last week said they wanted more consistency among downtown buildings.

But they also want to retain the individual characteristics of each building.

About 20 people attended the meeting Dec. 7, which was the first opportunity downtown owners had to talk about design guidelines that will be developed for the Tonganoxie business district.

Elizabeth Rosin, a partner with Historic Preservation Services, will be working on developing the guidelines, based on information received during a total of three workshops. At last week's meeting, participants worked to identify what they think are the important physical features downtown.

Initially, participants underscored some features of the downtown, including buildings and structures, routes taken by people, gathering places for activities and the boundaries evident of defining the district. Participants mentioned both banks on Fourth Street, the post office, Holst Pharmacy, Bichelmeyer's, Glen's Opry and churches.

The next step identified the physical assets, including landscape features, streets, buildings or physical characteristics of the buildings. Next, visual distractions were identified, including the grain elevators, metal facades on buildings, mansard roofs (roofs with two slopes), metal shingles, mismatched structures, broken or boarded up windows, crumbling sidewalks and vacant lots.

The final step gave owners an opportunity to discuss what they would like to change. Among the suggestions were more consistent building structures and the use of less metal.

The state awarded Tonganoxie two grants to help revitalize downtown. Widening Fourth Street, laying brick sidewalks, installing street drainage, period light fixtures and trees are included in a $713, 605 project. A revolving loan fund of $120,000 will provide low-interest loans for rehabilitation of the buildings downtown.

"The revolving loan fund is an incentive," Rosin said.

Once the design guidelines have been established, owners are not required to follow the guidelines unless they obtain loans. Those who borrow from the fund will be required to follow the guidelines.

The next two workshop meetings will begin at 3 p.m., Jan. 11 and Feb. 1, both at City Hall. The Jan. 11 meeting will center on design guideline issues more specifically. "We'll look at the nuts and bolts, the features that help define the buildings," Rosin said.

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