Politics & Government

Here’s what’s planned for streets, development around Wichita’s new baseball stadium

An update on the construction of Wichita’s new baseball stadium

(April 2019) Scott Sherry of JE Dunn Construction gives an update on the progress of Wichita's new baseball stadium. Work is expected to be completed in March of 2020.
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(April 2019) Scott Sherry of JE Dunn Construction gives an update on the progress of Wichita's new baseball stadium. Work is expected to be completed in March of 2020.

A plan geared toward drawing people to the Arkansas River corridor — and to new businesses there — will guide development around Wichita’s new $75 million stadium.

The Ballpark Village Master Plan released this week shows the changes the city and developers want to make near the ballpark, which is west of downtown between Douglas and Maple to Oak Street.

They include proposed changes to streets and parking and give an idea of where future buildings could be located — and what kinds of businesses could go inside. They also offer a glimpse at what the Riverfront Village developers plan to do with the Metropolitan Baptist Church site just north of the stadium.

The plan must be approved by the Delano Plan Advisory Committee, City Council and the County Commission before it is officially adopted.

The city wants to draw people to the river and direct traffic to new businesses that could help pay for the stadium through diverted sales and property taxes and possibly an added 2% sales tax.

McLean Boulevard would be narrowed from four lanes to two lanes from Douglas to Maple and moved away from the river. That would make room for riverfront shops and restaurants on land the city sold for $1 an acre to the baseball team’s owners. A new street, an extension of Texas Street from Sycamore to McLean, would provide more frontage and access to the businesses expected north of the stadium.

Both streets should be designed to be closed to traffic for events on the street, the plans say.

A major aesthetic change to the streets is also recommended: Instead of curbs, the city could opt to use lines of bollards or other physical barriers, along with different pavement materials to indicate the outer edges of vehicle lanes.

City planners don’t know how the proposed infrastructure changes will be paid for yet.

“Those answers don’t exist at this point,” said Scott Knebel, planning manager for the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission. “But we adopt a lot of plans that don’t have those answers when we adopt them.”

The Ballpark Village plan also is intended to “encourage and accommodate potential new development” at the Riverfront Village on the site of the Metropolitan Baptist Church, the document released Tuesday says. That property is being developed by George Laham, Dave Wells, Dave Burk and Jerry Jones.

Besides directing traffic past the new businesses, the updated plans would also offer new parking for them. A parking garage on the Riverfront Village site would give people a place to park and shop. On-street parking would be added on McLean to support riverfront businesses.

After tearing down Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, the city is building the new ballpark farther west from McLean to make room for development along McLean. The move eliminated Lawrence-Dumont’s former parking lot to the west.

Previously released plans did not include plans to add new parking, but The Wichita Eagle reported earlier this week that parking had been added. Two surface lots roughly the same size as Lawrence-Dumont’s are planned west of the stadium. The surface lots would encompass 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.

“A number of parking spaces will be provided in Ballpark Village, ensuring convenient daily access to commercial establishments and public spaces there when major events are not in progress, and making accessible on-site parking available for events,” the plan says.

On nights with major events at the stadium, visitors can expect parking to be similar to attending an event at Intrust Bank Arena and could be directed to public and “possibly some private” parking that is available, the plan says.

When there’s a big event at Intrust Bank Arena, which is 3/4 of a mile east of the stadium, “pedestrian access will be supplemented by shuttles and Q-Line services connecting Ballpark Village to other areas like Old Town, adding more convenient options,” the plan says.

The narrowed McLean would have commercial retail on both sides of the street; the plan shows three buildings on the riverfront.

Office and residential buildings are proposed at the southwest corner of Douglas and McLean, the northwest corner of Texas and McLean, and the northeast corner of Sycamore and Texas.

Also in the works, but not included in the Ballpark Village plan, is a river plaza between the Delano neighborhood and the Arkansas River. It would give people a place to gather and would include public art to draw visitors, according to the latest version of the Delano Neighborhood Plan that came out last month.

The Ballpark Village Master Plan is scheduled for a public hearing at Tuesday’s Delano Plan Advisory Committee meeting. That meeting will be 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the MAPC Conference Room on the second floor of the Ronald Reagan Building, 271 W. 3rd Street. The committee will submit a recommendation to the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission before it goes to City Council for approval in August.

Wichita Ballpark Village Master Plan

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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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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