What’s going on at WSU’s Innovation Campus?

Construction will begin soon on a new hotel, partnership building and other projects at Wichita State University.
Construction will begin soon on a new hotel, partnership building and other projects at Wichita State University. Courtesy photo

Construction at Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus is scheduled to ramp up in coming months, with four major projects beginning this summer and three others due to be completed this year.

“This is moving faster than we envisioned when we announced the Innovation Campus in August 2014,” university president John Bardo said in a news release issued Wednesday.

John Tomblin, WSU vice president of research and technology transfer, said contractors will begin work this summer on four projects:

▪ A 45,000-square-foot partnership building, which would house companies whose needs include working with WSU students or faculty, will be located just west of Airbus and north of the new Experiential Engineering Building. It will have easy access to the nearby National Institute for Aviation Research.

▪ An Element by Westin Hotel is expected to break ground in late summer and open in fall 2018. The hotel is the first major project in a mixed-use, 30-acre development called Braeburn Square, near 19th Street and Oliver, which will include restaurants and shops.

▪ Two multi-tenant buildings in Braeburn Square along 21st Street – east of the new Starbucks and west of the pond that crossed the 14th and 15th holes at Braeburn Golf Course – will begin construction this summer. Developers are “in discussions with potential tenants” to occupy about 20,000 square feet, but those won’t be named until agreements are signed, WSU officials said.

▪ A section of 18th Street, connecting Oliver to Innovation Boulevard, will begin construction this summer as well, with completion expected by the end of the year. Additional pond improvements and sidewalks also will begin this summer.

Three Innovation Campus projects are scheduled to be completed this year:

▪ A new Law Enforcement Training Center will be home to Wichita Police Department and Sedgwick County sheriff’s training programs, as well as the WSU criminal justice program classrooms and faculty offices.

▪ The Flats at WSU, a 285-resident apartment complex south of Eck Stadium, is scheduled to open in August.

▪ The original Pizza Hut, which moved from its first site at Kellogg and Bluff to WSU in 1986, is moving to the Innovation Campus and will reopen as a museum staffed by WSU history students.

Tomblin said discussions are underway for other potential partnership buildings on the 120-acre Innovation Campus.

WSU officials said they are in advanced discussions with the Greater Wichita YMCA to build a new YMCA and wellness center on the Innovation Campus, but neither party has given final approval. Earlier this month, some WSU students began gathering signatures on a petition opposing a proposed fee hike that would pay for it.

The city of Wichita is making extensive road improvements near the corner of 21st Street and Oliver that are expected to be complete late this year. The city also is repainting a water tower near 17th and Oliver with the university’s logo.

Suzanne Perez Tobias: 316-268-6567, @suzannetobias

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