Downtown Wichita’s beloved pop-up park will close Sept. 1, but it won’t be long before two food truck stalls reopen down the street at the redeveloped Naftzger Park.
“We are planning on hopefully in the next two to three weeks bringing those spots back and having the food trucks there on a more permanent basis,” says Troy Houtman, director of the city’s Park and Recreation Department.
The ICT Pop-Up Urban Park opened five years ago on the site of a filled-in pit off Douglas Avenue between Market and Main streets.
It was created as a temporary gathering space until developers could come up with a better use, but it quickly became a regular destination for food trucks and a go-to weekday lunch spot for downtown workers and residents.
But the partners behind the project — Downtown Wichita, the Wichita Community Foundation and Bokeh Development, which owns the property — announced last week that the urban park would close so that the space could be reimagined.
In a news release, Downtown Wichita says the recently finished Naftzger Park also serves a similar purpose to the original intent of the pop-up park.
Naftzger, at the southeast corner of Douglas and St. Francis, was similarly designed to host food trucks and community events.
When it reopened this spring, Houtman said there were actually a handful of food trucks at first, but parking space became an issue so it was suspended.
“We just wanted to work with all the neighbors around there about parking,” he said. “We just had to add some more parking spaces and kind of readjust there on St. Francis.”
Houtman said the parallel parking on the west side of St. Francis has been replaced with diagonal stalls, which added about a half-dozen spaces.
Now he says the plan is to set up two dedicated spots for food trucks, one on St. Francis and one on William Street — both at the southwest corner of the park.
“So it’s going to kind of sandwich the exit, and it’s going to work great when we have stuff going on over at Intrust (Bank Arena), people will walk right between both of them,” Houtman said. “We’re trying to be strategic.”
The city is working with the Wichita Food Truck Association to schedule a rotation of trucks at Naftzger. Houtman said the goal is to have the food trucks at the park daily for lunch and dinner.
Food trucks will also be able to work with Wave, which operates the food and bar offerings at the park during special events, although there haven’t been any scheduled because of Covid-19.
Houtman said the food trucks should be available at Naftzger soon.
“I’m hoping two to three weeks,” he said. “It’s just the logistics that we have to go through.”