More changes coming to downtown Wichita

Rodney Price
January 07, 2020 - 11:38 am
Wichita, Kansas - downtown buidlings across Arkansas River

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The Wichita City council tackled several items related to downtown development at Tuesday’s council meeting.

The council approved establishing a community improvement district around the new ballpark set to open in April. The CID boundaries include the stadium site, a portion of WaterWalk and city-owned property at Waco and 1st Street.  The CID will add 2 percent to the sales tax in this area for a period of up to 22 years.

A few citizens voiced concerns with how the ballpark development has taken place. Craig Gabel encouraged the council to handle future projects differently.

"Stop doing these deals, do it straight out, you know what I mean? It'll make you look better, it'll make the public support these projects better and stuff like that," he said. 

The CID revenue will be used for the design and construction of the stadium utilities, parking, and other improvements related to the stadium, river corridor improvements and surrounding development on the west bank.

The council also approved a private development agreement with Riverfront Partners, LLC. The group will purchase the Metropolitan Baptist Church property, and plans to develop the 7 acres there into 500 thousand square feet of hotel, commercial, office and residential space. 

Developer George Laham says there is plenty of motivation to develop this area.

"We realize that there is revenue that will be generated from our property, our development that funds much of the ballpark," he said.

The city also purchased property west of the new ballpark to help with parking. The city says they now have around 9000 spaces available, many of those east of the river. A $14.2 million federally-funded parking garage is also set to be built nearby as well.

Finally, the council agreed to a plan for tax increment financing for a part of the Union Station Project.

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