Politics & Government

Wichita’s stadium parking plan includes a new garage, surface lots and a bus station

A lot of parking could be added near Wichita’s new ballpark. More than one lot, actually.

Plans for the area around Wichita’s new baseball stadium call for a large parking garage and additional surface parking. The parking garage would also double as a transit center.

The garage would be located north of the ballpark on the Riverfront Village site, where developers plan to build offices, housing, retail stores and a hotel on land now occupied by the Metropolitan Baptist Church. It would also serve as a place where people could catch buses, said Scott Knebel, planning manager for the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission.

He presented a preliminary drawing of the stadium footprint at a planning committee meeting last week.

In the neighborhood recently bought out by a Riverfront Village developer immediately west of the stadium, houses would be flattened to make room for two surface parking lots.

The plan would require approval by the Wichita City Council and Sedgwick County Commission as part of the Ballpark Village Master Plan. Additional details are expected to be released Tuesday.

It’s not clear how the new parking would be paid for, Knebel said.

“Those answers don’t exist at this point,” Knebel told the Advanced Plans Committee. “But we adopt a lot of plans that don’t have those answers when we adopt them.”

Half of the cost of the parking garage could be funded by a Federal Transit Administration grant, Knebel said. The plan is conceptual and could be used for an application for federal funding, he said.

Whether the parking would be free or paid hasn’t been addressed yet, Knebel said.

Parking around the stadium has been an unresolved issue since the city announced it was tearing down Lawrence-Dumont Stadium to build a ballpark for the Triple-A affiliates of the Miami Marlins.

As recently as April, Jeff Wolfe, whose company manages city-owned parking, said that 420 on-site spaces and a patchwork of existing parking spots downtown would be enough for the new ballpark.

Since then, the demand for parking downtown has increased. The city intends to offer 500 spaces to downtown developers for a private medical school and culinary arts program. King of Freight’s hundreds of employees are expected to need parking near the Gander Mountain Building. And Fidelity Bank recently announced plans to remove three downtown parking lots, including one it just bought from the city, to make room for a new building.

The city is moving the stadium west away from McLean to make room for development near the river. The move eliminated Lawrence-Dumont’s former parking lot.

The plans presented last week offer the first glimpse at what might happen with the property west of the stadium. The surface lots would be roughly the same size as Lawrence-Dumont’s lot, encompassing the properties west of the ballpark to Oak Street from Maple to Texas.

In March, The Eagle reported that property had been purchased by Jerry D. Jones, through Townstreet Parners LLC. Jones, who partnered with George Laham, Dave Burk and Dave Wells for the Riverfront Village development, would not discuss his plans at the time.

The Ballpark Village Master Plan presentation also shows what the area along the west bank of the Arkansas River on McLean Boulevard could look like in a few years.

The city is considering narrowing McLean and changing it to a brick street, similar to many streets in Old Town, to make it more pedestrian-oriented. A development group that the city sold riverfront property for $1 an acre would set up shop in the space made by narrowing the street.

Along the river, the concept drawing shows three buildings on the west bank, across McLean from the ballpark. The city is extending Texas Street. It dead ends at the ballpark right now, but it will go all the way to McLean when it’s finished. The footbridge, which lines up with Texas, will cross the river.

Before the plan is presented to the City Council and County Commission in later summer and early fall, the Ballpark Village Master Plan will go before the Delano Plan Advisory Committee, Districts 4 and 6 advisory boards and Metropolitan Planning Committee for approval. Those meetings are open to the public.

Key dates for discussion of the Ballpark Village Master Plan:

June 18: Delano Plan Advisory Committee meeting

July 1: Districts 4 and 6 Advisory Board meetings

July 11: MAPC meeting

Aug. 13: City Council meeting

Sept. 4: County Commission meeting

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