East Town historic district meeting set for Tuesday

·3 min read

Jun. 20—A meeting is scheduled Tuesday to follow up on earlier discussions and concerns expressed by residents about a proposed nomination of the Broadway Historic District in the East Town neighborhood to the National Register of Historic Places.

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Bookhouse Cinema, 715 E. Broadway Ave.

A consultant hired to compile the nomination, Rory Krupp, of Owen & Eastlake Ltd. in Columbus, Ohio, will give a presentation on his findings and research that would be part of the report for the national register nomination. After the presentation, there will be a question-and-answer period.

The proposed district encompasses a commercial zone and residential areas along Langston Hughes-Broadway, which also carried the original Route 66 designation from St. Louis Avenue to Main Street. The area involves about 50 blocks, or about 300 acres. Its boundaries stretch from Langston Hughes-Broadway to north of Hill Street and from east of Landreth Avenue to Division Avenue.

In a survey of the entire neighborhood earlier, a Kansas City firm canvassed the area to determine what might be eligible for historic designation and recommended that a separate second historic district be considered. That area involves properties east and south of Langston Hughes-Broadway.

At a January meeting, residents raised questions about why properties on the south side of the main corridor were not part of the proposed district. However, the nomination process is being done in two phases because of the size of the neighborhood. Details of what could be included in the second area have not been finalized yet.

City officials held a meeting in East Town in May that addressed the nomination but largely became an opportunity to hear of neighborhood concerns about a lack of repairs to city streets and to ask questions about city inaction. Residents were told the city's normal schedule of attending to streets on a rotation of seven-year cycles had been skipped the last one or two times the East Town neighborhood was due for work, but did not know why.

About 20 residents were drawn to that meeting at the Boys & Girls Club.

Several residents said they were unaware that a historic district nomination process had been taking place because they were not informed of previous meetings held about the effort.

Tom Walters, a community development planner for Joplin, said the city made various attempts to notify people of the process but did not have a list of specific people who might be interested. He asked those who wanted to be notified in the future to sign up for future notices.

The purpose of nominating a portion of the business district along Langston Hughes-Broadway to the National Register of Historic Places is to spur investment in the area, Walters said. Approval of the nomination would make tax credits available that could pay up to 25% of the cost of renovating properties within the boundaries of the district.

Some of those present expressed concerns that improvements to buildings and houses could price them out of the neighborhood because their taxes would be raised, but Walters said the taxes of the improved property might rise but that neighboring properties would not be subject to those taxes for improvements.

Community input about the history of the neighborhood was collected during meetings in 2019 and early 2020. Historic preservation specialists from a Kansas City company, Rosin Preservation, worked in the neighborhood to take photographs and gather information about buildings and houses that might make up a district or individual nominations.

For questions, contact Tom Walters with the city's planning and community development office at 417-624-0820, ext. 1539.