The Wichita City Council added its stamp of approval Tuesday to Project Downtown, the master plan for downtown revitalization for up to the next 20 years.
By a unanimous vote, the council adopted the plan. Mayor Carl Brewer said the plan provides a path to a vibrant downtown, which is needed to make Wichita more competitive in attracting businesses.
"I think we're being presented with a reasonable plan that will provide us with opportunities," Brewer said. "It's a matter of what we do with those opportunities.
"Are we going to say, 'We don't think we can use them, why don't you go to Tulsa or Kansas City?' "
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According to the plan put together by Boston-based consultant Goody Clancy, there is a potential market demand of $500 million in projects from private investors. An additional $100 million would be in public money, projected to be spent on such public-use areas as parking garages, parks and street landscaping.
Several council members noted that the plan doesn't require that the city spend that $100 million.
"We will evaluate as we go forward," council member Jeff Longwell said.
Investment by the public would be driven by the private sector, said Jeff Fluhr, president of the Wichita Downtown Development Corp.
"We wouldn't be out in front of the private sector," Fluhr said. "Market demand is driving the plan."
A few residents spoke against the plan at the meeting. Some didn't think enough Wichita residents had input on the plan.
But Goody Clancy's David Dixon, the lead developer, said 150 to 200 meetings were held with small groups to get input and another 10 citywide meetings or events were conducted to solicit ideas.
Council member Paul Gray didn't necessarily disagree with the critics who suggested the input participation was limited.
"But that's always true," he said. "There's a small number of people who participate in anything, including elections."
He and other council members said their district advisory boards supported the plan.
The plan targets the Douglas corridor, and specifically Union Station, as the first stop for retail and entertainment development.
Goody Clancy was paid $500,000 to develop the plan over the past year. The city kicked in $225,000 of that fee with the rest split between the downtown development corporation and the private sector. In December 2008, the council unanimously agreed to begin a downtown master plan.
The plan's blueprint is built on a business plan for market-based redevelopment, including strict guidelines for public investments downtown.
Last month, the Wichita-Sedgwick County Metropolitan Planning Commission voted unanimously to adopt the plan. The Sedgwick County Commission is scheduled to take up the plan after the first of the year, probably in February.
Others endorsing the plan since early November include the Wichita Area Association of Realtors, the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, Go Wichita, Visioneering Wichita, the Board of Park Commissioners, Wichita Transit Advisory Board and Young Professionals of Wichita.