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Wichita Takes First Step In Century II Public Engagement Process

Deborah Shaar
KMUW/File photo

The City of Wichita is beginning the process of gathering community input on what’s next for its downtown Century II Performing Arts and Convention Center.

City Council approved an agreement on Tuesday that lays the groundwork for upcoming public engagement opportunities.

The city plans to hire a project consultant who will design and implement what it calls a “transparent public engagement process.”

Wichita City Manager Robert Layton recommended that the engagement process be led by an independent third party to ensure neutral framing of the issues.

Layton presented preliminary recommendations for Century II in September that called for expanding the convention center and renovating the iconic blue dome building as the home for performing arts.

The city wants to identify the community’s interest and recommendations on Century II’s future as a performing arts center.

Mayor Jeff Longwell says the feedback will help the city create an overall plan for the Century II riverfront complex.

"Once we have that understanding, whether they modernize that facility or whether they scrape it and build new, then we can start putting the pieces together and show you something that we think will work for our community," Longwell says.

Longwell says the city is not including the convention center in the initial public discussions because the city’s needs have already been identified.

"The piece with conventions is really data-driven," Longwell says. "We know what we need to build for conventions. How it architecturally gets designed yet, we don’t know until we have all the pieces put together."

Longwell says the community will be able to have a say in how the city moves forward with the entire project because a new revenue stream will be needed.

From City of Wichita’s Request for Proposals: The primary purpose of this engagement is to identify the community's interests and recommendations related to Century II as a performing arts center, to include the option of its removal and replacement, as well as its relationship to the convention center, both in function and spatial proximity and its relationship to the riverfront and other community spaces in the project area. A selection committee comprised of city council members, the city manager and staff and one Wichita resident will select the project consultant for the community engagement process. The engagement process will involve a broad cross-section of Wichita residents. The city’s proposal says the community’s interests, recommendations and preferred options for Century II as a performing arts center will be summarized in a comprehensive report.


Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar

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