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Community Members Gather For Neighborhood Rebuilding Initiative

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Abigail Wilson
/
KMUW

Community members gathered Tuesday night to discuss a neighborhood rebuilding initiative in Wichita.

The initiative is supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program. The project will use funds already in the city budget and capital improvement plan. Wichita is one of 20 communities across the U.S. selected to participate and receive technical assistance in the program in 2016.

The first stage of the project will focus on the central-northeast neighborhood east of I-135 and west of Hillside between 9th street and 13th Street. That’s city councilwoman Lavonta Williams’ district.

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Credit Courtesy
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A map of the neighborhood that will be the focus of a new initiative to increase infill and development. The green represents vacant parcels in the neighborhood.

The main focus will be on infill, which is a strategy to build new businesses and homes in developed sections of land, therefore utilizing existing infrastructure as the city grows. Williams says she wants to focus on moving forward with the infill opportunities in the neighborhood.

“When I say infill I not only mean residential housing or apartments, I’m also talking about retail because this is a particular part of the community that does need more retail," Williams says. "So that’s very, very important.”

Contractor Warren Pyles grew up in the neighborhood and has rental property here. He says he wants to the work in the community to be done by qualified local people.

“We’ve got contractors all around here that are not getting any calls. I’m not getting any calls," Pyles says. "Therefore nobody is getting work. That’s how the community dries up."

The neighborhood was selected because it meets criteria outlined in the recently approved Wichita/Sedgwick County Community Investments Plan that seeks to develop vacant or underutilized land within a three-mile radius of downtown Wichita.

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Follow Abigail Wilson on Twitter @AbigailKMUW.

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