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Examiner
  • Englewood’s arts district designation will open new avenues for businesses

  • The rezoning of the historic business area in western Independence was made official with a unanimous vote by the Independence City Council Monday night. Several dozen supporters – many of whom have worked toward the effort for at least two-and-a-half years – sat in the council chambers wearing their neon “Where the arts live in Independence” stickers in support of Englewood.

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  • Now it’s official: Englewood is an arts district.
    The rezoning of the historic business area in western Independence was made official with a unanimous vote by the Independence City Council Monday night. Several dozen supporters – many of whom have worked toward the effort for at least two-and-a-half years – sat in the council chambers wearing their neon “Where the arts live in Independence” stickers in support of Englewood.
    It was an issue that every council member had to have his or her say on before the vote took place. And after the vote took place, those in support clapped and cheered – and some even said “thank you” to their elected officials.
    “I’m just really excited to see this coming to fruition,” said District 1 Council Member Marcie Gragg, whose represented area includes Englewood. “I think this is a wonderful example of a lot of fantastic things that are happening in western Independence. It really speaks volumes of how things come together. Sometimes, people scribble ideas on napkins, they share them with staff members, elected officials and community leaders, and then they come together and come to consensus of an idea they want to move forward.”
    The official designation of 44 properties within the arts district marks the ending of a nearly three-year process that started with the opening of one art space – Green Dog Gallery – and a subsequent feasibility study. Last week, the district celebrated the second anniversary of the Third Friday Art Walk. District 3 Council Member Myron Paris said the event was so well-attended that parking was limited.
    “I went by Friday night – it was a little cloudy, a little dewy, but there were a lot of people who were out there,” Mayor Don Reimal said. “I was really impressed with the number of people who turned out – that was nice.”
    As a young person, At-Large Council Member Jim Schultz said, he spent time hanging out in the once-thriving Englewood area, which almost stood alone as its own little town in its heyday.
    “I also had the chance to see it die,” Schultz said, “and it’s so exciting to see it come back. It’s a great, great thing for Independence. As a council member, for us, this is very exciting.”
    The arts district will allow new uses to take place within its jurisdiction, including artisan manufacturing and outdoor entertainment. Certain commercial uses, such as pawn shops, short-term loan, bail bonds and gun shops, will not be allowed, but any existing businesses like this in Englewood will be exempt from the new regulation.
    “This is a perfect example of how citizens can come together and how you can revitalize your area of town,” District 2 Council Member Jim Engelman said. “All it takes is just coming together, having a plan, getting with the city, proposing your plan.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Go by. Enjoy it. See what can be accomplished. I challenge you.” 
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