New Christmas lights for downtown to replace the 25-year-old decorations; better mass transit so it’s possible to live in Wichita without owning a car; more housing for low-income seniors with waiting lists of months, not years. The Eagle asked several organizations for their wish lists for the Wichita area. Here’s what they would like to see:
1. Interactive art displays such as sound and light gardens
2. Bike sharing programs
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3. Fireworks displays during holidays throughout the year
4. Evening mass transit
5. More neon signs on Douglas
6. Organized evening bike rides
7. A stronger all-ages music community and venues
8. Updated holiday lights and decorations downtown
9. Cafes or coffee kiosks along the riverbank
Young Professionals of Wichita
1. More opportunities for career advancement: In 2015 and 2016 surveys of Wichita-area young professionals, this was identified as the top factor YPs consider when choosing a community to move to or stay in. When asked how well Wichita performs, only 9 percent of respondents said we were an excellent community in that regard. YPs need to know there are options for them to advance in their careers in this region, whether that’s in their current company or another company here in town. This also requires having opportunities at a variety of small and large businesses.
2. An even more vibrant downtown: Wichita’s YPs recognize that a lot of progress has been made in the past 10 years. However, they want to see more – more coffee shops and casual gathering spots that are not bars/pubs, more events, more retail shopping, more family-friendly activities, more walkability and more lighting and safety measures. And yes, they want to see a downtown grocery store.
3. Continued development of after-hours districts: A vibrant downtown is vital, but YPs also want options. Areas like Delano, the Douglas Design District, and Clifton Square have small pockets of after-hours activity. Wichita needs to identify more areas of the city where young people can gather after work hours and on the weekends and support the continued success of the ones that already exist.
4. A strong network of active transportation options: It doesn’t matter how great our downtown or other districts are if the transportation options are few and far between. Continuing to develop our bike lanes and paths, extending the Q-Line from Delano to College Hill, activating the river downtown, and finding solutions to move our public transit system from “riders by need” to including “riders by choice” are important to young people who want to explore the city outside their cars.
5. A culture of intentional inclusion of YPs: Regional leaders need to continue to not just invite YPs to the party, but also to ask them to dance (to borrow a phrase from a recent Harvard Business Review article on inclusion in the workplace). It’s clear that our community leaders understand how important it is to attract and retain young talent. Now we need to make sure that many different young people’s voices are being heard and taken into consideration when decisions are being made that have a long-term impact on our community and its vision to become a destination for young talent.
Sedgwick County Zoo
1. A better admission center. The current Admissions and Gift Shop building is virtually the same structure that was built in 1972, just after the opening of the Zoo. Over the years modifications have been made to accommodate the Zoo’s changing needs; however, these renovations are no longer effective. With our attendance now reaching upwards of 700,000 visitors a year, the space that was designed for 200,000 guests is no longer adequate. We hope to better accommodate our guests needs with new entrance portals, membership services offices, retail space, office space and other guest amenities.
2. Guest Experience Improvements. The Zoo has several guest experiences that it currently offers: giraffe feeding station, boat tours and Catch a Keeper opportunities. We would like to see additional opportunities offered. Ideas include: Enhanced encounters, additional way finding, guest transportation opportunities such as CP Huntington Train and upgrade to current tram services.
Wichita Downtown Development
1. A brand-new world-class ballpark with adjacent riverfront development and diverse public amenities.
2. Placemaking and programming. Fun, quirky and unique experiences for downtown residents and visitors.
3. Higher Urban Density. Increase the critical mass of the downtown district by building new multi-tenant Class A office space.
4. Increased Connectivity. Vibrant urban parks and streetscapes that encourage the community to explore their downtown.
Greater Wichita Partnership
1. Grow Primary Jobs. More regional headquarters choose the greater Wichita region.
2. Diversification through Entrepreneurship. There’s so much entrepreneurial activity we become a hub for venture capital firms.
3. Educational Attainment and Workforce Development. Everybody in the region’s workforce adds a degree, certificate or skill.
4. Internal and External Perceptions. When people move here, residents say, “You’re going to love it!”
5. Recruit and Retain Talent. Moving vans only bring people into the city.
6. Downtown Vitality. Parades of people walk along Douglas from restaurants or their apartments to the new ballpark.