More than a decade ago, the Independence School District annexed portions of the Kansas City School District to improve the quality of public education for all Independence residents and to encourage public and private investment on the city’s west side. Soon after the successful annexation, the City Council launched programs in the northeast neighborhoods and commercial districts to stabilize and rehabilitate older housing stock and commercial real estate. Many homeowners and business owners took advantage of the available incentives and made a positive impact on neighborhoods.
Until now, no such program existed for the city’s Southwest neighborhoods. The City Council recently authorized establishment of the Southwest Independence 353 Tax Abatement Program, bounded on the north by 23rd Street, the east by Sterling Avenue and the city limits to the west and south. Older single-family homes built between 1939 and 1959 predominantly characterize the neighborhoods of Rockwood, Rock Creek, Rock Creek South and Blue Ridge Boulevard. The area also has a high owner occupancy rate (70%) and is affordable to residents earning between $42,000 and $50,000.
The high owner occupancy rate and older housing stock in Southwest Independence is an excellent candidate for 353 tax abatement. Tax abatement encourages homeowners to reinvest in their properties by offering a reduction in property taxes in exchange for making improvements that increase the value of homes and eliminate blight. The older housing stock indicates that homes in the area may require investment from the homeowner to address structural deficiency, blight or remodeling required so the homeowner can age in place.
The redevelopment area and terms of the tax abatement were developed in cooperation with citizens, the Independence School District and community organizations to allow property tax abatement for homeowners who improve their residential properties. In order to be sensitive to the other taxing jurisdictions the Southwest 353 will take application for 10 years and provide for a seven-year tax abatement period for qualifying participants.
The next step in the process is for the City Council to establish a 353 Tax Abatement Board. The board will determine qualifying criteria, review applications from homeowners, and oversee administration of the abatement program. The Independence School District will appoint two members to the board. Homeowners residing in the program area who are interested in serving on the 353 Tax Abatement Board are asked to contact the city clerk for an application 816-325-7010 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the goals of “Independence for All,” the community’s five-year strategic plan adopted in 2017, is to stabilize and revitalize neighborhoods and increase median value of owner-occupied homes. The Southwest Independence 353 Tax Abatement provides an accessible incentive to residents that allows them to remain in their homes and continue to contribute to the health, safety and beautification of the neighborhood in which they live.