Politics & Government

Wichita seeks to build six-level parking garage, bus station near new ballpark

Wichita plans to build a six-level, 543-space parking garage and bus station near its new ballpark, according to city documents. It’s projected to cost as much as $17.5 million.

The new development is envisioned as a “Delano Multimodal Center and Park-N-Ride” that would cut down expected traffic congestion in Delano and downtown. It would provide people “a place to park their vehicles and go to work, enjoy the downtown, Delano District or patronize an entertainment venue by using the Q-Line, Transit buses, scooters, bicycles or walking,” a city staff report included with the plan says.

Detailed plans for the garage and bus station have not been publicly discussed or approved as part of the Ballpark Village Master Plan, which is supposed to guide decisions about infrastructure and development near the ballpark. The existence of a plan to add the garage and bus station was first reported last week.

More information about the proposed parking garage emerged when it was added to the agenda for Tuesday’s City Council meeting and posted to the city’s website. It is on the consent agenda, which typically contains routine items passed without public comment or council discussion.

The garage would be built on the northeast corner of Sycamore and Texas Street and house 543 parking spaces. Fourteen of the spaces would be handicapped accessible, distributed across all six levels. The new garage and bus station would be connected to the parking lot of the Riverfront Village development on the Metropolitan Baptist Church property, according to an overhead map of the proposed site.

The center is expected to cost between $14.5 and $17.5 million. The city has less than a week to apply for a federal grant that would help pay for it and needs the council’s approval Tuesday to move forward, the city staff report says.

If Wichita gets the federal funding, the Federal Transit Administration would cover 80% of the cost. The city would fund the rest, or about $4.3 million, from the transit system’s capital improvements budget.

Wichita plans to extend Texas Street from Sycamore to McLean and would add a bus lane to help accommodate the transit center, according to the new plan.

Besides parking, the center would also have office space and storage. A little over 5,000 square feet of retail space would be included on the first floor of the center.

The first floor would consist of bus bays, locker rooms, covered bike share racks and scooter parking. The second floor would include electric vehicle charging stations. Floors 3-6 would be exclusively for parking. Electric bus charging stations would also be included at the center.

One substantial change from plans first reported last week is the orientation of the parking garage. Previous plans showed the parking garage farther north, crossing onto the Metropolitan Baptist Church property. Now, it appears re-positioned on city property northwest of the stadium across Texas Street from the stadium.

Parking around the stadium has been a concern since the city revealed plans for the new ballpark that removed Lawrence-Dumont Stadium’s biggest parking lot. Perhaps the Wichitan most frustrated by initial plans was Michael Conine, who was moved to tears while addressing the city council in February.

“I grew up in Wichita — born and raised. I have a 4-year-old daughter. And I would love to give her the experience of going to games, but I will not walk a half mile with my little girl — and I am not the only one,” he said.

Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell told Conine that the city was waiting on plans for private development around the stadium to decide how to address parking.

Last week, the latest draft of the Ballpark Village Master Plan showed potential development just north of the ballpark at the Metropolitan Baptist Church site, which is planned to be converted to the Riverfront Village by developers George Laham, Dave Wells, Dave Burk and Jerry Jones.

A company linked to at least one of those developers purchased two blocks of residential property west of the stadium that is planned as a surface lot available to the public. Additional details about that parking lot have not been disclosed.

Wichita’s ballpark is expected to cost $75 million and open in time for the Miami Marlins’ Triple-A affiliate baseball team’s home opener next spring.

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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.