The Wichita City Council took action Tuesday to help convert a dilapidated parking garage into 44 entry-level downtown apartments.
The council agreed to lend a developer $620,000 to finance facade improvements for the garage conversion planned at 303 S. Broadway.
“Today, it’s kind of an eyesore,” said council member Pete Meitzner.
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“Just a little bit,” agreed development analyst Mark Elder.
The renovation project will essentially split the existing garage with multi-level parking remaining on the back side of the building and the new apartments facing out toward the Broadway frontage of the building.
The up and down parking ramps will be kept in place so each tenant will be able to park immediately outside his or her apartment, said Michael Ramsey of Bokeh Development.
Every apartment will have a terrace looking out onto Broadway.
The huge neon “PARKING” sign on the building frontage will be restored to maintain the historical integrity of the structure.
Ramsey said he’ll start work almost immediately. He expects to have the building ready for tenants in about 11 months.
The one-bedroom apartments will be considered “entry level” for new construction downtown, renting for about $800 a month, Ramsey said.
The typical rent for recently renovated apartments in the area is about $950 to $1,000 a month, he said.
Ramsay said he expects the tenant mix to be about the same as most downtown apartment buildings, with some service workers, some professionals and a few “empty nesters” downsizing from single-family houses.
The city financing represents slightly more than 1/10 of the projected $5 million cost of the project.
The money will be paid back, with interest, from tax assessments on the property spread over 15 years, council member Janet Miller said.
Council members thanked the developer for his willingness to fix up what has long been an unused, run-down, fenced-off and boarded-up mess of a building.
“We really appreciate your investment,” Miller told Ramsey. “Thank you very much. It’s an exciting day.”