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Park to close and construction to start on Spaghetti Works project in about a week

This rendering shows the commercial development that will front onto Naftzger Park in downtown Wichita.
This rendering shows the commercial development that will front onto Naftzger Park in downtown Wichita. City of Wichita

Naftzger Park will be closed May 21 as reconstruction of the park and construction of accompanying commercial and apartment developments move forward, Wichita's mayor said Thursday.

"Along with the construction of that park you will see that Spaghetti Works start their phase of construction," Major Jeff Longwell said. "That's why we have these wonderful displays up here," he said, pointing to architectural renderings of the park reconstruction and a commercial building that will front onto the park.

In conjunction with the park redevelopment, TGC Development will turn the building that once housed the Spaghetti Works restaurant into a 41-unit luxury apartment house.

A 60,000-square-foot office and commercial building will be constructed at the east edge of the park, anchored by the headquarters of the Martin-Pringle law firm.

"This project was not about us as the developer, but this is a critical site that needed to be the right thing for the city of Wichita and the community," said Nick Esterline of TGC.

"There's such a great opportunity for the living component," he said. "But also for the work and the play and the entertainment and having this be the connecting point from all the wonderful things that are happening to the east of this site, and also the west, and funneling into the excitement of the Intrust (Bank) Arena and all of the great events that they brought in there."

The reconstructed park and the new developments are expected to jointly open in fall of next year.

When the project is finished, the four-story Spaghetti Works building will look about the same and will continue to bear the name of the defunct restaurant, Esterline said.

Part of the project funding will come from historical preservation grants that preclude doing much to the brick exterior beyond restoring mortar lines and steam cleaning, he said.

Longwell did not provide a clear answer as to what will happen with the homeless people who typically gather at Naftzger Park on a daily basis.

"We have our outreach team that has been working with a number of different entities and they've been engaged in this process," Longwell said. "So they will continue to be engaged and trying to make sure that we're finding resources for those that are in need of resources and continuing to reach out to specifically the homeless community."

Allen Stoker spends a lot of time at Naftzger Park and says he wouldn’t mind seeing some upgrades to the downtown park that make things easier for the homeless population that frequents the park. (Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle/August 2017)

Dion Lefler; 316-268-6527, @DionKansas
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