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Committee Nearing A Recommendation On Century II's Future

Hugo Phan
Mary Beth Jarvis speaks in front of the Rotary Club of Wichita about the future of Century II.

The head of the committee examining Century II's future as a performing arts venue says it's time for the community to make a decision.

Mary Beth Jarvis is chair of the Century II Citizens Advisory Committee. She said during a speech Monday at Rotary Club of Wichita that the iconic blue-domed building, built in 1969, has significant structural and safety issues. Those include drainage problems and asbestos issues.

“The time for patches and kicking the can further down the road has passed,” Jarvis said. “Things really need to be done.”

She said the building also does not meet accessibility requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Century II is home to Music Theatre Wichita, the Wichita Symphony and Wichita Grand Opera. It also hosts a variety of musical shows and events throughout the year.

Although Century II also houses convention space, Jarvis said her committee was asked to focus on just the performing arts portion of the building.

Jarvis said the cost of renovating Century II or building a new performing arts facility would be about the same. Although the committee has no firm price tag, she said either option will be costly, perhaps as much as $200 million.

The committee is expected to make its recommendation to city officials in early January, Jarvis said. City leaders will then decide how to move forward.

The committee is seeking public input, including through speaking engagements to District Advisory Boards and other civic groups. To schedule a presentation, provide feedback or get more information, go to CenturyIICitizensCommittee.com.

Tom Shine is director of news and public affairs at KMUW. Follow him on Twitter @thomaspshine.

Tom joined KMUW in 2017 after spending 37 years with The Wichita Eagle where he held a variety of reporting and editing roles. He also is host of The Range, KMUW’s weekly show about where we live and the people who live here. Tom is a board member of the Public Media Journalists Association, serving as small station representative, a volunteer coach for League 42 and an adjunct instructor in the Elliott School of Communication at Wichita State University.