A $1.91 million bond issue for capital improvements to convention space at Century II won approval from the Wichita City Council on Tuesday.
The bond issue, which will be financed by transient guest tax revenue routed through the city’s 10-year capital improvements plan, includes security upgrades, elevator and freight lift evaluation, exhibitor services technology and equipment, addition of rehearsal space, plumbing maintenance, electrical and maintenance work, restroom improvements and kitchen and concession remodeling.
Also included in the plan is a market study by Conventions Sports and Leisure International, a planning and advisory firm that consults with the convention industry, to measure Century II against current convention industry needs. That study will be financed by Go Wichita, the city’s tourism organization, and is not included in the bonding.
“Our study is to gain insight into the potential to attract additional convention business to the Wichita area,” said Susie Berglund Santo, Go Wichita president and CEO.
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Jeff Fluhr, president of the Wichita Downtown Development Corp., said Century II’s convention space is “a vital part of the health of our downtown.”
He said officials from Goody Clancy, the consultants behind Project Downtown, urged the city to look closely at the convention center’s “competitiveness.
“Both today, and where we’re going as a city,” Fluhr said. “It really is important to not only downtown but the region as well as we develop and grow.”
Out of the study, and the improvements to convention space, council members hope to get a clearer idea of Century II’s future: Can Wichita continue to compete for major national conventions with a renovation of the convention space? Does the city need to build more convention space, possibly toward the river?
When the study is done and city officials have a clearer sense of the convention market, a designer will be retained to begin shaping how the new and improved Century II will look.