An older Independence historic district is hoping to soon see new additions following a 10-year effort.

An older Independence historic district is hoping to soon see new additions following a 10-year effort.

City staff will travel to Washington, D.C., in early November to testify on behalf of expanding the Harry S. Truman National Historic Landmark District. The district was first established in 1971, and the National Park Service began the process of expanding it a decade ago.

The current boundaries in the historic landmark district include 216 parcels, 211 of which are residential with no commercial property. The district mainly incorporates the neighborhood surrounding Truman’s home at 219 N. Delaware St. The proposed district boundary expansion would incorporate 567 parcels and would extend to include the Truman Library & Museum, the Square and the Truman Depot.

The National Park Service, using a theme study, must evaluate a location before it receives a national landmark designation. The National Park Service Advisory Board then reviews thae application and presents a recommendation to the U.S. Department of the Interior.

“The path to NHL designation is long and arduous,” said Jennifer Clark, the city’s director of the Community Development Department.

Following the application process, Clark said, an application might be slated for a hearing at the biannual meeting of the National Landmarks Committee, though it is not a guarantee. The designation is honorary, she said, and contains no design guidelines.

“I’ve seen great improvement in Independence as I’ve come back over the past 10 years,” said Rachel Franklin-Weekley, an architectural historian from the National Park Service’s Omaha, Neb., office. Franklin-Weekley completed the 253-page application with National Park Service for the district’s expansion.

However, the city of Independence separately has a local historic district with established City Code guidelines. The Heritage Commission oversees this district, and a public meeting will take place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 8 at Truman Memorial Building regarding the local district’s design guidelines.

In addition to the honorary recognition, property owners within the national historic landmark district may take advantage of federal and state income tax incentives, Clark said. The state offers a 25-percent income tax credit to residential and commercial properties based on the total eligible project costs. A federal 20-percent tax credit also is available to only commercial properties.   

Mayor Don Reimal said he deferred a resolution that would support the expansion back to city staff at the Aug. 23 council meeting to allow for more information on the project. Reimal, who has served on City Council since 1994, also said several new council members were elected since 2000 and thought the historic district expansion information had not reached them prior to Monday night’s meeting.

“I think it’s going to be very beneficial to businesses and to residents who are looking forward to doing some positive improvements to their homes,” Reimal said of the proposed expansion. “With those two changes, you know it’s going to be positive for all of Independence.”