After more than two years of planning, developers and local officials participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for the River Vista apartments at First and McLean during sweltering heat Tuesday.
The project, which will cost more than $35 million, will include about 200 apartments along the river, along with bike and boat rentals.
“Quality takes time,” said developer George Laham at the groundbreaking.
“It’s a very exciting time for the revitalization of downtown Wichita. … After much research, market studies, design review and input from the community, we have designed a development that we feel is befitting to the market, to downtown and to the west bank of the Arkansas River.”
Project developers include Laham, Dave Wells of Key Construction and Dave Burk.
“When we talk about transforming Wichita, I can’t think of anything else that is truly going to make an impact where we either bring the river to downtown or bring downtown to the river,” said Mayor Jeff Longwell.
“It’s going to have, for the first time, the opportunity to activate our river like we’ve never seen.”
Dirt work will begin at the site next week, starting with underground storm and sewer utilities, said Amy Liebau, River Vista president.
Developers expect work on the bike paths, beautification of the river bank and apartments to begin in four to six months, she said.
Jeff Fluhr, president of the Wichita Downtown Development Corp., said that more than $180 million in projects is under development or being planned along the Douglas Avenue corridor, including the Union Station project, Exchange Place, the former Merrill Lynch building, River Vista and the proposed library by Exploration Place.
“River Vista will further transform our city center by increasing our residential base,” Fluhr said.
Initially, River Vista included retail and possible plans for a hotel, but developers decided retail at that location wasn’t feasible and wanted to focus more on the demand for downtown apartments.