Westwood Hills wins approval as Kansas historic district – one of a kind

The shops at State Line Road and 50th Street contribute to the architecture for the Westwood Hills historic district application.
The shops at State Line Road and 50th Street contribute to the architecture for the Westwood Hills historic district and could be eligible for federal tax credits if the national register application is approved.

Westwood Hills is now the only municipality in Kansas that lies completely within a historic district. The Kansas Historic Sites Board of Review has approved the Westwood Hills application which places the entire city on the Kansas Register of Historical Places.

Next up is a review by the National Park Service that could place Westwood Hills on the National Register of Historic Places. A determination is expected in the next 60 days. The Kansas board recommended that Westwood Hills be included on the national register, according to Sarah Martin, the national register coordinator for the Kansas Historical Society.

The 175 homes and the few businesses in Westwood Hills do not represent the largest historic district in Kansas – there are some neighborhoods that are larger – but no other city is included in its entirety, Martin said.

The designation means that building permits will go through a state historic preservation review, designed to preserve and protect the character of the district. The process normally only adds a few days, according to Martin. It also means that property owners can qualify for a state tax credit of 25 percent for certain remodeling work. A national listing brings with it a 20 percent federal credit, but the federal credit only applies to income-producing properties, of which a handful exist in Westwood Hills.

A state law that required building permits within 500 feet of a historic district to undergo review was repealed this year. It had caused concern in neighboring Westwood because of the potential effect on nearly 200 properties in the neighboring city.

Westwood Hills is located between State Line Road and Rainbow, running from 50th Terrace to 48th Terrace. Ironically, the larger Westwood administers building permit applications for Westwood Hills.

Westwood Hills was platted by the J.C. Nichols Company in 1923 and incorporated in 1949. The application lists 177 primary buildings for preservation which was based on the architecture of the city and “community development and planning.

The Westwood Hills application and other information about the district can be found here.