Over the past decade, the Sedgwick County Commission has shown significant support for downtown Wichita’s revitalization, through its leadership on the new Intrust Bank Arena and otherwise. At today’s commission meeting, it should fortify that commitment by formally adopting “Project Downtown: The Master Plan for Wichita” into the city-county comprehensive plan.
That step won’t obligate the county to bankroll or implement the plan’s various phases in the coming months and years. But it will integrate the downtown plan into the process of making area planning and capital improvement decisions.
As important, it will make official the county’s status as a full and enthusiastic downtown partner, rather than an interested onlooker, and signal that commissioners understand the potential benefit of a vibrant downtown Wichita to the economy and cultural life of the county and region.
Among the countless attributes in the plan, crafted with lots of public input by Boston consulting firm Goody Clancy, is that it envisions as much as $500 million in private-sector capital investment over the next 15 to 20 years to bring new housing, retail, office space and hotel rooms downtown, backed by perhaps $100 million in government spending on parking, streets, parks and other improvements serving a broad public good.
With the downtown plan having been adopted by the Wichita City Council and endorsed by the Wichita-Sedgwick County Metropolitan Area Planning Commission in unanimous votes, it should not be too much to expect support from all five county commissioners.
Are county commissioners on the side of the fight for a great downtown? Or are they against it?
Today’s vote will tell.