Wichita officials are looking at ways to spur more development in the center of the city, even as it expands outward.
City leaders are looking at what’s called the “established central area,” which spans Ridge to Rock Road, and 29th Street North to 31st Street South. The area encompasses about 40 percent of Wichita, but it has been largely overlooked in favor of development along the city’s fringes.
“You go through the center of town, and parts of it, they’re just ... distressed," says Mary Hunt, principal planner for the Wichita-Sedgwick County Metropolitan Area Planning Department. "The investment isn’t going in there.
“So we want to devise a plan to encourage the development inside our city’s central area.”
The Wichita Urban Infill Strategy—now called the “Wichita: Places for People" plan— originated in the city’s long-range 2015-2035 Community Investments Plan, and the city formed an advisory committee to work on the issue. The plan aims to develop empty parcels, or re-develop buildings that have fallen into disuse or disrepair, and bring back businesses and residents to the area.
Hunt says one of the benefits of pulling investment back to the center of the city is to fix an imbalance between where many people work and where they live.
“People live on the fringe in many cases, but they work in the central core of the city,” she says. “So they really don’t have the option of living in the central core. There aren’t as many options as they’d like to have.”
It also takes advantage of existing infrastructure, rather than building new infrastructure.
“We already have the sewer lines, and we’re having to continue to maintain them. We already have the water lines, and we have to continue to maintain them,” Hunt says. “Same thing with electrical. That all has to be maintained whether there’s anyone there or not.”
To set priorities for how to fix issues within the established central area, the city is now asking for the public’s input. A meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Evergreen branch of the Wichita Public Library, 2601 N. Arkansas, to discuss ideas for redeveloping the city’s core.
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