Politics & Government

Developer has bought nearly two blocks of land west of new ballpark

Specifics about new ballpark in Wichita unveiled

Officials from the city, along with architecture and construction firms, talk about new renderings of a new AAA ballpark that will be built in Delano. (Jan. 23, 2019)
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Officials from the city, along with architecture and construction firms, talk about new renderings of a new AAA ballpark that will be built in Delano. (Jan. 23, 2019)

More development might be coming to the Wichita ballpark area than has been shown on any set of plans released publicly.

Townstreet Partners, a limited liability company, has bought nearly two blocks of property west of the stadium in 14 months, according to the Sedgwick County register of deeds.

Though any development on that property could benefit from proximity to the stadium, it sits just outside the tax districts planned to help pay for the project.

The representative listed in state and county documents for that company, Jerry D. Jones, is also a partner in a group that plans to develop the area north of the new ballpark.

Both potential developments are separate from the city’s plans to sell 4 to 4.5 acres to a different development group tied to the baseball team.

Jones is part of Riverfront Partners, which is developing Riverfront Village on 7 acres owned by Metropolitan Baptist Church north of the stadium. Jones is partners in that venture with George Laham, Dave Burk and Dave Wells, who built the River Vista Apartments that opened last year at First and McLean.

It’s unclear what, if anything, Townstreet Partners plans to do with its land, which includes several houses and apartment complexes.

“We have no plans to discuss at this time,” Jones said in an email last week.

No proposed developments or changes to the neighborhood west of the ballpark have appeared in any recent plans for the area, including the Ballpark Village Master Plan or the Delano Neighborhood Plan. Neither of those plans have been finalized, but they will guide the development standards around the new stadium, city leaders have said.

An early concept plan submitted by Wichita as part of a STAR bond request in 2017 includes office buildings and other development in that area.

Jones is well known in Wichita as a developer, especially for his work at NewMarket Square in northwest Wichita. He left Slawson Cos. after almost two decades in April 2017 to start his own firm.

Jones filed articles of incorporation for Townstreet Partners on Halloween of 2017, a week after the City Council approved hiring a headhunter to find a Minor League Baseball team to play in a new stadium.

The company bought its first property on Jan. 11, 2018, a residential property at 333 S. Sycamore, across the street from Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.

Attempts to contact Mayor Jeff Longwell by email to ask about potential development in that area were unsuccessful. Asked if the city knows of plans for that area, his spokesperson Megan Lovely said: “I couldn’t conjecture. No formal ask of the city has been made at this time.”

Jim Martinson with Delano United, a group tasked with implementing revitalization plans in the neighborhood where Townstreet Partners has been buying land, said he hasn’t heard of any plans for that area at recent Delano Neighborhood Advisory Committee meetings. But he said that doesn’t surprise him.

“That’s the way this city operates,” he said.

The Eagle’s attempts to contact current and past property owners in the area west of the ballpark have been unsuccessful.

The properties, although across the street from the stadium, would fall outside of the approved and proposed TIF, STAR bond and CID districts that have been proposed or created to help pay for the stadium.

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Chance Swaim won the Betty Gage Holland Award in 2018 for distinguished service to honor and protect the integrity of public dialogue on America’s college campuses. He has been a news reporter for The Wichita Eagle since 2018. You can contact him at 316-269-6752 and cswaim@wichitaeagle.com.
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