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‘Closer to the action’: More people are choosing to live downtown

Rachel and Raymond Williams love the view from their apartment, which is on the 24th floor at 250 Douglas Place in downtown Wichita.
Rachel and Raymond Williams love the view from their apartment, which is on the 24th floor at 250 Douglas Place in downtown Wichita. The Wichita Eagle

For Rachel and Raymond Williams, a three-month wait to get a downtown apartment was worth it.

The Williamses moved to the 24th floor of 250 Douglas Place in September after renting on the west side.

“We had dreamed about living in an urban environment or a bigger city for a long time, but our jobs and family and opportunities are here in Wichita,” said Rachel Williams, who graduated with her husband from Newman University in 2013.

“We decided to move because we were wanting to be closer to the action. Now we’re two minutes from Old Town, we can go to breweries and we can walk across the street to Century II for live theater.”

The Williamses are some of the nearly 2,000 people who live downtown, according to the Wichita Downtown Development Corp., a nonprofit that receives private and local government support to help grow downtown.

More than 800 apartment units are currently in the works to accommodate a growing number of people who want to live in the city center, according to WDDC. Current occupancy is just under 100 percent in Wichita’s roughly 1,300 downtown units.

Downtown growth is a trend nationwide, particularly among millennials, said Jeff Fluhr, WDDC president. And cities see a thriving downtown as one way to recruit and retain talented workers.

“We’re positioning ourselves to be competitive with cities like Des Moines, Oklahoma City and Nashville,” he said.

In a 2015 report, WDDC said the average downtown resident was most likely to be a single, college-educated, white male.

The Williamses said they like where they live, in the highest apartment building in town.

But when new apartments open up, they’ll still go and look.

“Sure, we’ll check them out,” Rachel Williams said. “And eventually, we’ll probably want to buy a house. But maybe we’ll buy a condo instead. We just really wanted to check out this opportunity before we didn’t have a chance anymore.”

Kelsey Ryan: 316-269-6752, @kelsey_ryan

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