Scott Knebel is a planner by trade, so his move into the role of point man for the city’s downtown redevelopment effort seems like a given.
Not necessarily, says the lifetime baseball fan and lover of challenges.
“It’s been more complex,” said Knebel, 43. “The challenges aren’t necessarily greater, but they’re difficult to determine the best approach and ideas for a solution, if there is one. Sometimes, it’s just the most ideal solution rather than the best solution.”
Knebel has spent his career with the city’s planning department, following his graduation 20 years ago from the Hugo Wall School of Government at Wichita State University.
He’s a dedicated baseball lover, and he’s not afraid of a challenge there, either: He loves the Chicago Cubs.
“It’ll be interesting to see,” Knebel said about the Cubs. “I haven’t been paying much attention to the Cubs. Trying to get the Shockers to win some games.”
“A lot of that is the sheer scale of the project, the financial magnitude of it. The asking price for the property aside ($6 million), which is large in comparison to other sites, it’s just the tip of the iceberg in the magnitude of costs for the largest underutilized contiguous site downtown.
“Way back when we were talking numbers before Project Downtown was adopted, we were assuming it would cost between $50 million and $60 million to redevelop Union Station.”
“The numbers we’re looking at now in terms of private and public investment that’s already occurred downtown is in the $150 million range. That tells me that perhaps we were conservative in our estimates, and as much as we’ve done and as quickly as it’s happened, perhaps there’s more potential downtown than we realized.”