By Tatum Goetting & Corbin Smith
St. John Avenue is a step closer to its own Community Improvement District (CID). Two residents of the Historic Northeast district, Dylan Van Gerpen and Julie Lane, have formed a partnership with the Northeast Kansas City Historical Society for the creation of a CID on St. John Avenue, they announced today.
The June 4 press release from the St. John Avenue CID said the potential district would focus on advancing economic development and improving historic preservation in the Northeast Kansas City community. The CID has not yet been approved or funded by the City.
Five years ago, Van Gerpen and Lane gathered a small round table of their fellow residents and decided that St. John Avenue needs more businesses and economic development. This decision resulted in the group’s partnership with the Northeast Kansas City Historical Society.
“We decided to be proactive instead of reactive to the destruction and everything else that has transpired over the decades in Northeast,” St. John Avenue CID founding partner Dylan Van Gerpen said. “So we started to pivot into forming a CID.”
Community engagement and working on improving infrastructure on the St. John corridor are some of the CID’s initial goals.
“We’re going to be working on developing systems and plans for small businesses,” Van Gerpen said. “We will hopefully be cultivating more small, women-owned businesses and people of color-owned businesses.”
The CID will have boundaries stretching from Benton Boulevard in the west to the Blue River in the St. John Industrial Complex. Additionally, the district corridor will expand one block north and south of St. John Avenue.
Van Gerpen and Lane are planning to do voluntary work to tidy the community up. Before they can start working with financial support, the new district must gain approval from 51% of all existing business owners within the proposed district.
“As we start to continue to meet more with community stakeholders and current business owners, we’ve got to get through the petition process first,” Van Gerpen said.
In the meantime though, Van Gerpen, along with Lane, will start volunteering throughout the corridor in hopes that they can help with organization and more community-centered projects.
“We’re basically volunteers and all expenses that have transpired have been managed and handled by us personally,” Van Gerpen said. “So, once we start receiving tax dollars, those improvements that we’ve mentioned will transpire.”
The website’s goal is to allow community members to voice their opinions while also allowing the St. John CID to provide complete transparency throughout this process, the press release said.
“[The] St. John Avenue CID will strive to create a healthy, all inclusive eco-system that will harmoniously coincide with Scarritt Renaissance and Indian Mound neighborhoods’ quality of life and vision plans while advocating for historic preservation and small businesses,” the press release said.
The St. John CID www.Stjohnavekc.com allows the community to follow along with the planning as they move toward creating a CID.