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Occasional News & Topics in Community Affairs
Copyright 2010-2016 by Richard Harris*

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GENERAL
 

ECONOMY
TRANSPORTATION
DOWNTOWN
LIVING
 
Downtown
Background
2010 Jan/Feb
2010 Charette
2010 Spring
News

Downtown Planning News

News:
2011-to-Present,
& Selected Media Reports

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The redevelopment of Downtown Wichita rapidly accelerated following the City Council's approval, in late 2010, of a basic plan for downtown redevelopment (see DOWNTOWN, on the City of Wichita official website).

Various developers began moving ahead with renovations, at sites ranging from the Broadview Hotel to the Commerce Street Arts District.

Here's the last several years' news, since 2011, in chronological order:
(NOTE: sources are noted in gray:
 • WBJ=Wichita Business Journal;
 • Eagle=Wichita Eagle & Beacon;
 • all other sources as noted.)



2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016

Downtown is important to ALL of us in Wichita. Each of us either works, plays, shops, eats, attends church or civic events, uses government services, visits libraries, explores museums, or enjoys entertainments, in Downtown -- and in the adjacent (and affected) Old Town and Delano districts.

And we ALL pay the taxes that support downtown government operations, and the arena -- and the development and maintenance of streets and highways into Downtown Wichita.

Downtown Wichita is
the HEART of OUR City!

Downtown's Future is OUR Future.
Get involved, and shape it!


Real Development Corp.:
Saga of "the Minnesota Guys"

Out-of-state developers Real Development (popularly nicknamed "The Minnesota Guys") -- who charmed the City Council with notions of great downtown developments -- became the primary driving force in downtown development, acquiring from the city government over a fifth of the available major structures downtown -- including the pivotal block on the north side of Douglas between Broadway and Market streets.

And then they became entangled in numerous controversies, including questions about whether they could, or would, deliver on their promises.

Some of their developments failed to meet criteria for planned financing. Funding-cashflow demands overwhelmed their operations. They asked the city for more tax money -- getting a tentative "no" from wary Council members, once enthusiastic supporters (with some of their campaigns largely funded by the Minnesota Guys).

Real Development's plans began to falter. Financing woes, and hints of inability to deliver. Tax increment financing (TIF) demands made upon the city. Allegations by state authorities of criminal finance schemes. Much of the Minnesota Guys grand plans seemed to stumble and collapse -- threatening the heart of Downtown Wichita, and its revitalization.

Questions were raised in City Council and Mayor elections about the extent to which the campaigns of some Council members and the Mayor were funded by the Minnesota Guys and their business associates.

The City Council promoted a referendum to adopt a sales tax to fund city improvements (including downtown and related transit and transporation infrastructrure). The sales tax was largely defeated by opponents citing the failure of the City's partnership with Real Development — questioning, as a result, whether more money could be entrusted to the City Council.

Starting in the previous year (see 2010 Spring page), these troubles -- threatening the entire "Mayor's Vision for Downtown" -- became a separate running narrative, that is also partially documented in the sequence below:


Real Development
- the Minnesota Guys



PHOTOS
(click to enlarge)


The downtown planning map. Dark purple is vacant land, light purple is parking. Orange-red are officially "historic" buildings, allowing "historic preservation" funds, with regulatory strings. Yellow buildings are eligible for "historic" status. Blue-outlined buildings have "potential" for "additional use."



Downtown development map marked up by Charette "Group 2" -- showing "green-space" improvements along the river, along with yellow apartment buildings, and a magenta hotel. Blue office buildings sprout along 2nd street, while a south-downtown "transportation hub" area -- with parking, mass transit, bikeways, walkways and streets -- connects Kellogg traffic, Century II, and the Arena area (circled in red to note recommended retail/dining development).


Downtown developments done or progressing by April 2010. Click to enlarge
Downtown closeup -- buildings & projects already arranged or completed before consultant's plan released. (Click to enlarge.)

  • RED-ORANGE: Historic buildings (to be preserved).
  • MAGENTA: Existing major entertainment venues.
  • LIGHT BLUE: Developments already completed, underway, or being arranged.
  • DARK BLUE: Existing major business building complex (unlikely to change) (Intrust Bank).


GENERAL
 

ECONOMY
TRANSPORTATION
DOWNTOWN
LIVING
 
Downtown
Background
2010 Jan/Feb
2010 Charette
2010 Spring
News