Keeper of the Plans

Party in a parking garage? It’s OK this one day in downtown Wichita

This parking garage in downtown Wichita will be the site of a multi-level party this July, called LevelUP.
This parking garage in downtown Wichita will be the site of a multi-level party this July, called LevelUP. The Wichita Eagle

A good party is sufficiently spacious – never cramped.

Well, this party has plenty of space(s) – nine floors of them, to be exact.

This summer, a group of locals are planning a multi-level party in the Sutton Place parking garage at William and Market. The event, called LevelUP, is scheduled from 2-11 p.m. July 21.

People are expected, perhaps ironically, to walk through the parking garage, said Janelle King, owner of The Workroom and organizer of LevelUP.

Every floor will feature a different theme – from live musicians, makers, yard games, local shopping, furnished “lounges,” craft beer tastings, restaurants serving free samples and more.

The party will culminate on the roof of the parking garage, where a DJ will perform. And, of course, guests can snap rooftop selfies with a view of a downtown Wichita.

King said the aim is to bring life and activity to the parking garage, a utilitarian concrete structure by nature.

“At any point in the garage, you can stand and you don’t really have visibility of anywhere else,” she said. “It’s about this concept of exploration. As you turn each corner, you get new surprises, activities and experiences.

“We felt it would be a perfect fit.”

A Facebook event created earlier this week has already drawn interest from more than 1,000 Wichitans.

The event was funded by a $5,000 Up the Ambition grant from the Wichita Community Foundation. Those grants – announced last May – have in the last year funded a floating DNA sculpture in the Arkansas River, a series of art shows under the Douglas Street bridge and other projects.

The parking garage itself – characterized by the boomerang-esque skywalk that connects it to Sutton Place – has received a major overhaul in the last four years.

What was once crumbling concrete is now painted in alternating pleasant shades of baby blue and gray, and LED lights have been installed on its facade.

The garage is “kind of wacky,” King said: It has two entrances, and each entrance grants access to alternating floors. One entrance will be reserved exclusively for cars, and the other half (all of five levels) will be reserved exclusively for people.

The party also falls on the city’s 148th birthday – a coincidence that King says was “unintentional.”

“The whole thing is going to be a big celebration of Wichita,” she said.

Applications are currently being accepted for vendors, artisans, entertainers and local businesses who want to participate in LevelUP. The application, which can be found at form.jotform.com/80165326271149, must be submitted no later than May 1.

There is a fee of $40 per 9-by-18-foot parking stall, or $20 for each additional adjoining stall.

“It’s not a trade show – this is not something you’d normally find at Expo Hall,” King said. “It’s all about providing an experience.

“The idea is to encourage people to think differently – maybe you’re an insurance company, but instead of just sitting at a table handing out clicky pens, come up with some fun game or activity, an art installation, entertainment in some form or fashion.”

For more information about participating in the event, contact Janelle King at janelle@jkdesignICT.com.

Matt Riedl: 316-268-6660, @RiedlMatt

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