Advocates of the Independence Square are looking to capitalize on its strengths – more businesses and more visitors.
“I think our downtown has more going for it than most in the state,” said Jeff Rogers of the Independence Square Association.
Now the group has won a five-figure grant for training that could lead to accreditation through Missouri Main Street Connection, which promotes the vitality of downtowns. The two years of training is for the Square Association’s 12 board members.
“What it really becomes is a very organized structure instead of a loosely organized structure,” Rogers said. The grant covers 60 percent of the training, so the cost to the group is $9,600.
Lee’s Summit, Liberty and five other cities are accredited through Missouri Main Street, Blue Springs is listed as an associate member, and Independence, Grain Valley and nearly 100 others are listed as aspiring members.
Missouri Main Street uses a four-point approach created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation: organization, economic restructuring, design and promotion.
That means the Square will have to be more intentional about each of those, and someone from the state group will be following up. Take design, for example.
“It should be a walkable district,” Rogers said.
He added, “The Square would be a lot better off if we had a refresh. Our sidewalks are looking worn.”
The association covers the area bounded by Memorial Drive on the east, Kansas Avenue to the south, Spring Street to the west and Truman Road to the north.
“We’d like for it to expand,” Rogers said.
(Separately, the city recently named a Downtown Redevelopment Coordinating Committee, but it’s looking at a far larger area than just the Square.)
The Square has added several business in the last few years, and Rogers suggested more are on the way.
“Right now, it’s going to develop organically,” he said,
There is more foot traffic these days, he said, and that helps.
“The more that we have here,” he said, “the more it lifts up everyone.”