Dozens of new banners promoting Noland Road in Independence started going up this week. It’s the first step toward what advocates say will be ambitious efforts to revitalize the commercial road, bring in new businesses and even make it a little more walkable.
“We’re working with blighted areas and improving those. We’re trying to get businesses to upgrade (and attract) new business,” said Gerry Winship, executive director of the Noland Road Community Improvement District.
The improvements are paid for through a three-quarter-cent sales tax at Noland Road businesses. That’s projected to bring in $125,000 a year, roughly $38 million over 25 years. The money goes for capital improvements and maintenance as well as assistance to businesses along the five and a half miles of Noland from U.S. 40 to Truman Road.
For instance, commercial signs are a high priority. So-called monument signs are considered far more attractive than signs mounted on poles, and businesses can get some assistance for swapping out their pole signs.
The community improvement district was formally created three years ago this month, but Winship adds, “It’s been four and a half years in the making.”
The CID board has five members: Winship as well as local business people Karen Downey, Ken McClain, Carlos Ledezma and Dee Pack. Local attorney Bill Moore has assisted the group, as have consultants Ochsner, Hare & Hare.
Ochsner Hare & Hare found 181 businesses in that five-and-half-mile stretch of Noland, mostly places to eat and drink, bank or buy a car. “Big-box” retailers are probably out, but those that could be attracted, the consultant says, include medical and dental offices, variety stores, apparel and accessories stores, a coffeehouse or two, casual dining – it gives Chipotle and Panera Bread as examples – and sit-down restaurants. Winship said he’d like to see a good steakhouse.
The banners are meant for what the CID calls “brand integration.” Some are seasonal, but some are year-round, with a prominent “N” for Noland and a classic car to touch on but not overemphasize the “Miracle Mile” that the road’s many auto dealers have promoted for years. “Explore the corridor,” says one banner.
More is on the way:
• In early 2018, look for prominent white-and-blue signs at 13 stop-light intersections from U.S. 40 north to Truman Road. “Those are going to be illuminated,” Winship said.
• The Noland and I-70 gateway is considered highly important.
“Visitors from the west in particular have no real sense that they’re leaving Kansas City and entering Independence,” says Ochsner Hare & Hare, arguing that the bridge there is “the perfect location for the incorporation of a primary gateway element.”
“The bridge has always been number one,” Winship said.
The plan is to improve the bridge’s appearance and widen the sidewalk to six feet from 42nd Street north to Lynn. That work is tentatively scheduled for the spring of 2019.
• Other improved gateways – that is, places where first impressions are made – are planned at five other key intersections: Truman Road, 23rd Street, 35th Street, 39th Street and U.S. 40.