Politics & Government

Mayor: Doing nothing is most popular option for Century II

Aerial view of Century II

A look at Century II from the air. While the city of Wichita grapples with what to do with the aging Century II – either renovate or scrap and start over, we take a drone flight over the 48-year-old building that opened in 1969. (Video By Bo Rader
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A look at Century II from the air. While the city of Wichita grapples with what to do with the aging Century II – either renovate or scrap and start over, we take a drone flight over the 48-year-old building that opened in 1969. (Video By Bo Rader

Leaving it alone is the most popular option for the aging Century II Convention and Performing Arts Center, Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell said Tuesday.

“I can tell you the popular opinion right now, amongst most of the leaders I talk to, is potentially doing nothing with Century II,” he said. “Because anything we do with Century II is going to create the need to find additional resources and I don’t know that there’s an appetite for that.”

The City Council has discussed options including possible demolition. In May, it spent $294,000 on a consulting contract with California-based Arup Advisory Inc. to explore ways to renovate or replace the 50-year-old venue and look for more efficient ways to operate it.

Longwell said the council hasn’t had any discussions about “the fate of Century II or the non-fate of Century II.”

“We still have to figure out how to fund our police officers, getting the staffing up to somewhere in the neighborhood of an additional 73 people over the next couple or three years,” he said. “I don’t think there’s an appetite to find dollars for Century II unless the community wants to.”

Visibly frustrated by community chatter about efforts to save Century II and protest calls to City Hall, Longwell criticized rumors that the council has already decided to raze the iconic building and replace it with a new convention center.

“If you heard discussion out there that this council’s made a decision to tear down Century II, someone is misleading you,” Longwell said. “You are not hearing the right information or someone is just intentionally spreading gossip.

“That is just wrong, bad information and people have been sucked into that, because we’ve had people call the City Council office so mad they could hardly form complete sentences they were so mad.”

“There’s been no discussion to tear down Century II,” Longwell concluded. “I can say that about 50 more times and it won’t get out to the community. So I’ll leave it at that.”

Dion Lefler: 316-268-6527, @DionKansas

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