Expect a new look for Douglas to bloom in time for the first and second rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship in March 2018. In fact, if the weather cooperates, the first blooms will appear this May when a public-private partnership brings 113 landscape planters to Douglas between Main and Washington.
The initiative is one of the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation’s Self Supported Municipal Improvement District projects, funded by an additional property tax mill levy paid by property owners within the district – between Washington and the Arkansas River and Kellogg and Central.
While real estate agent Cindy Carnahan was helping Jeff Fluhr find a home years ago when he relocated to Wichita to become president of the WDDC, she shared with him her dream project for downtown of beautification using flowers. As a lifelong gardener, Carnahan said, she has always admired how other cities – from Denver to Kansas City to nearby El Dorado – have decorated their signature streets with flowers to make the community more inviting.
“Douglas Avenue is our postcard avenue, and with all the great things happening downtown right now, I felt that flowers would really cap off the transformation we’re seeing and be a huge part of the beautification,” she said.
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Carnahan said each massive planter is estimated to cost about $500 each year, including purchasing the planters, installing them and then fertilizing, watering and seasonal plantings. She is spearheading a fundraising campaign to ensure there is money to continue to keep the planters blooming well beyond the NCAA tournament and, if enough is raised, to incorporate hanging baskets of flowers from lamp posts.
“I’m a huge basketball fan, and I think it’s important for us to show off the city for the NCAA tournament,” she said “I want to make this an ongoing project, and I want to take it further west to Delano and further east, too.”
She is asking her circle of friends and clients to support the project and hopes the community will support it financially. Anyone can donate to the WDDC and request their funds be directed to the flower project. She said her Rotary Club friend Hugh Nicks has been instrumental, as well as Kathy Sweeney, director of special events at Botanica. Hein Lawn Services of Valley Center has designed a template for each pot depending on how much sun and wind its location will get, she said.
“Cindy has brought tremendous energy and vision to the project,” said Jason Gregory, executive vice president of the WDDC. “We know it’s going to look great year-round with her input. She’s always thinking bigger and better. With her help, we hope to make the project size and scope even bigger.”
To donate: Wichita Downtown Development Corp., 507 E. Douglas, Wichita, KS 67202. Please note that you wish your donation to go to the Flower Project.