The city of Wichita is priming for downtown commercial development.
“I think the term here is key catalyst areas,” he says. “In so many ways, the environment for further economic investment downtown is more in key areas than key sites.”
The activity centers largely along Douglas from Washington west to Delano, where $180 million in work is either under way or starting. Included are:
• Market between William and Douglas, with the Exchange Place project— “The activity with the Market and William parking garage, and even the filling in of the hole on Douglas, is catalytic itself in being activated for development,” Fluhr says.
And then, there’s the old Allis Hotel site, a surface parking lot once encumbered for the Finney Office Building. No more.
“Now that has sunsetted, that opens up an opportunity for us to be thinking strategically with some ground-up construction,” Fluhr says.
• First and Waco— Fluhr says development in this area, keynoted by projects already completed and the River Vista apartment project, has just begun.
“What we’ve already seen is the redevelopment of the Drury Plaza, the investment in Corner 365 and the groundbreaking at River Vista,” he says. “It’s one of the catalyst sites in the master plan, and it’s being positioned to grow.
“As we go into the next year, as construction begins in River Vista, interest is going to increase in opportunities for this site.”
• Union Station: Redevelopment has begun on the interior and exterior of the 9-acre site at the city’s old train station, but Fluhr and Knebel say it’s one step in a bigger growth transition in Old Town.
“The influence is going to be felt to Washington and Waterman,” Fluhr says. “There will be a lot of opportunities with buildings for adaptive reuse and for real estate with ground-up construction. As it nears completion for the first phase, there will be opportunities emerge for activity in the buildings and on the plaza.”
Knebel says that growth will spread through Old Town. The transition of the old Airbus engineering building to Wichita State University is one example.