Politics & Government

Wichita abandons parking garage plan, could buy developer’s property west of stadium instead

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.

Wichita plans to solve parking problems at its new baseball stadium by buying land west of the ballpark from a developer.

The city plans to transform the area around a $75 million ballpark that’s replacing Lawrence Dumont Stadium at Maple and McLean into a tourist destination with shops, restaurants, housing and gathering spaces. The stadium is designed to fit more people, but is being built on top of the old stadium’s parking lot.

The stadium is scheduled to open in time for the Miami Marlins Triple-A affiliate’s home opener next April.

About 2 acres of residential property west of Sycamore Street could be turned into parking - either a parking lot or garage - and bought by the city. The new lot would replace some of the parking spaces eliminated by moving the stadium west to make room for riverfront development on land the city sold for $1 an acre.

Buying from a private developer replaces a plan released two weeks ago that included building a six-level parking garage and multi-modal transit center north of the stadium. That would have put the garage and bus station close to private development on the Metropolitan Baptist Church site.

Now, the city would move the garage to either the land west of Sycamore bounded by Oak Street, Texas and Burton or to city-controlled land near the Wichita Ice Center, south of Maple, Layton told the Delano Plan Advisory Committee.

Wichita applied for federal funding for the garage and bus station last week. In its application to the Federal Transit Administration, the city showed the garage close to the church site. It’s estimated to cost $17.7 million to build, and the federal government could fund up to 80 percent of it.

If Wichita gets that funding, the city will put the garage elsewhere, Layton said.

The Delano Plan Advisory Committee endorsed the changes. The land purchase would require City Council approval.

It’s unclear what the city plans to pay for the land west of the stadium, which is owned by Jerry Jones through his development company Townstreet Partners LLC. Layton said the city hasn’t established a price range yet and is negotiating with the property owner.

The city plans to have a deal for parking before the home opener next spring, Layton said.

The land between Sycamore and Oak from Texas to Burton was appraised at $68,500 this spring. With the houses built on the land, the eight parcels in that area have a total value of $471,700, according to Sedgwick County Appraiser’s records.

Jones also bought several other parcels south of Burton to Maple in the past year and a half, and Layton said it’s possible that land could later become parking.

Jones began buying the property, which is mostly homes, in January 2018. Jones is part of a partner development group that plans to open shops, restaurants and apartments on the property north of the ballpark, which is owned by the Metropolitan Baptist Church.

Two different overhead views of the ballpark area were released this month. The first one showed a parking garage straddling city and church-owned property north of the ballpark, close to the development. The second one showed the garage on exclusively city-owned property.

“We’ve now decided that probably will hurt development and could cause some problems for the developers,” Layton said at a Delano United meeting this week. “So we’re not going to put the multi-modal site there if we’re successful getting federal funds.”

The church-site developers — George Laham, Dave Burk, Dave Wells and Jerry Jones — plan to add parking around their development, but would still require access to other parking options, Layton said. Laham, Burk and Wells developed the River Vista Apartments just north of the Metropolitan Church site.

“We believe that in order to support the development at the church property they’re going to need some surface parking, and that’s in their plans,” Layton said.

Contributing: Matthew Kelly of The Wichita Eagle

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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.