First building will be Westin Element Hotel

The mixed-use corner of Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus along 21st and Oliver is beginning to take shape. The 20-acre area reserved for restaurants, shops and lodging will be named Braeburn Square, to honor the university golf course that operated there.

The first building in Braeburn Square will be a 123-room Element by Westin Hotel. Construction is expected to begin by spring 2017 on the corner of Oliver and 19th, a new street being built on the Innovation Campus.

Element by Westin hotels are known for their contemporary design and environmentally friendly practices. There are about 60 in operation or planned in the United States and Canada, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The nearest locations are Omaha, Dallas and Denver.

“As we talk with companies about locating on the Innovation Campus, one of the repeated requests is for a hotel to serve the needs of business travelers,” said John Tomblin, vice president for research and technology transfer. “The hotel is a must-have for continued growth on campus. In addition to corporate visitors, it will also serve families of prospective and current students, guest speakers and those attending arts, athletics and other campus events.”

“Westin and its parent company, Starwood, are associated with quality properties. Having a highly regarded international hotel brand here sets a positive tone for the types of restaurants and services we plan to bring to Innovation Campus.”

Buildings privately financed

Braeburn Square buildings will be privately financed without the use of student or public funds. Developer Rick Worner, who is well known for the Village West development in Kansas City, Kansas, will take the lead in recruiting tenants. Worner is involved locally in projects in Wichita at K-96 and in Derby and Goddard.

GLMV Architecture is developing plans for Braeburn Square; Law Kingdon Architecture is developing plans for the hotel. The hotel will be operated by Imagine Resorts and Hotels, which has developed and operated more than 40 hotels and family resorts, comprising more than 6,000 guest rooms throughout the United States. The company’s management and development expertise encompasses flags such as Marriott, Hilton and InterContinental.

Wichita State President John Bardo said, “Meet you for dinner at Braeburn Square” or “I’m staying at the Element” will become commonly used phrases as the mixed-use sector is developed.

“We continue to implement our plan to create an innovation district where students, faculty, staff, partners and the community can collaboratively learn, work, live and play,” Bardo said. “At its heart, the Innovation Campus isn’t about buildings. It’s about creating an environment for applied learning and research to stimulate and grow the Kansas economy.”

The first two buildings on Innovation Campus are under construction and will be completed this fall:

  • The Experiential Engineering Building will include 25 laboratories and a community makerspace called GoCreate, a Koch collaborative.
  • The first partnership building will house the Airbus Wichita engineering center for up to 400 Airbus employees and Wichita State students engaging in applied learning with the company.

A third building was announced in April. The Law Enforcement Training Center is a collaboration of the city of Wichita, Sedgwick County and the WSU Criminal Justice Department, where police officers, deputies and students will be trained and educated.

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