Archive for Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Downtown moving south

October 30, 2002

If residents need to drop off utility bills, mail a letter, check out a library book or fill up with gasoline, downtown Basehor is the place to go.

Any other errands such as grocery shopping, banking needs or eating at a restaurant are done outside the city or on 155th Street near the Basehor Town Square area.

What most residents know as downtown Basehor 155th Street starting at City Hall and ending near Ripley Street is quickly shrinking. Soon the area could become vacant.

"There just isn't a downtown area," Basehor City Codes Administrator Mike Hooper said.

"What was downtown has been ravaged by fires over the years and there just isn't anything left," he added, citing the fires that claimed two locations used by the Cabinet Shop of Basehor in 1998 and 2001.

What currently stands as downtown Basehor City Hall, Basehor Community Library, the Post Office and Casey's General Store pales in comparison to other local cities.

Bonner Springs' downtown area features a multitude of commercial and retail businesses, including restaurants, a grocery store, thrift store, banks and insurance agencies.

Tonganoxie's downtown has many of the same enterprises.

So what's in store for Basehor's downtown? Revitalization? Or abandoning the area and migrating offices south to plusher, expanded locations?

City officials said the latter.

Discussions have already taken place about City Hall moving inside a proposed Basehor Historical Society Museum and Conference Center near 158th Street. Historical Society members are trying to obtain funding for the $2 million project.

The Basehor Community Library also plans to move its facility south should a proposed bond issue receive voter approval. There has been no special election date scheduled.

The Basehor Post Office could also move south to a bigger facility in the future, Hooper said.

With those plans in place and with large areas near the highway designated for commercial, retail and industrial use, developing or renovating downtown becomes less important, city officials said.

"There could be some development in what was the old downtown," Hooper said. "We don't have a planned approach on developing the old downtown area. For years, we've planned on Parallel and 158th Street probably being the future."

Further evidence of the city's relocation lies with where city officials have targeted major road improvements.

City officials have received tentative grant approval from the Kansas Department of Transportation to pay for curb, gutter and asphalt work for 158th Street.

KDOT has not given its final approval or indicated the grant amount yet, city officials said.

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