Neighborhood revitalization tax rebate plan proposed for Roeland Park, Westwood

How to push revitalization of the 47th Street corridor that touches Roeland Park, Westwood and Wyandotte County is a question that is moving onto the agendas for the two Johnson County cities.

The Walmart market is scheduled to open September 18.
The 47th Street corridor has seen commercial activity this year with the new Walmart market opening and Taco Republic across the street. The new proposal would support residential redevelopment.

The cities have long cooperated – along with Wyandotte – in an overlay committee that reviews projects along the corridor, centered on the 47th and Mission Road intersection. But now they may be stepping it up a notch in an attempt to spur more redevelopment in the area. A Neighborhood Revitalization Program is one method that the cities will be exploring as a tool to accomplish that goal.

Committee members, with several Westwood officials present, outlined the option to the Roeland Park City Council Monday. Their suggestion is to consider a tax rebate program that could financially reward residential homeowners who make substantial investments in their property. Scott Bingham and David Waters, who serve on the committee, said that encouraging improvement of residential property that lies along and adjacent to the corridor in turn would make 47th Street a good investment for commercial developers.

Westwood Mayor John Yé said that when the overlay committee was reconvened a few years ago, a goal was to make it a pro-active development committee. “I think it is great for them to come up with this,” he said.

Bingham, who chairs the overlay committee, said the revitalization mechanism would require the owner to pay the taxes on the improvements and then be reimbursed from the city based on a formula which would be established by the cities. The rebate would be directly tied to the new assessed valuation of the property after the improvement.

It should be designed, he said, to avoid rewarding maintenance expense, such as roof replacement. Each city can tailor a program to fit its needs. “Clearly we think we should work together,” Yé said in response to a council question, “but still allow the space to do what’s best for your city.”

Bingham said the program could attract new residents and young families to the neighborhoods. Since the rebate is based on improvements, it does not lower current tax collections, but would give back a portion of the additional taxes that would be owed as a result of improvements.

The plan can be extended to commercial development if the cities choose. The revitalization tool has been used in Wyandotte County already.