Century II, the old downtown library, the Boat House, and Wichita Riverfest mixed in between, may totally disappear in the next few years. They could be replaced by a massive green spaces, activities along the Arkansas River, a pedestrian bridge that connects the east and west banks of the river, a new performing arts center, a separate convention hall, along with restaurants, retail sites, offices and apartments.

It’s a major decision that the Wichita City Council is preparing decide on in 2020, and they honestly seem interested in hearing what the community wants. Their goal is to develop a master plan that will drive the redevelopment of the area along the Arkansas River to Main Street and between Douglas and Kellogg.

There have been a number of studies looking at the future of downtown Wichita. The information gathered from those studies along with community input and experts look at what worked and didn’t work in other cities, led to the presentation earlier this month of five preliminary design concepts for the City’s riverfront.

Three design concepts include significant green spaces for public gatherings and all include a pedestrian bridge connecting the area to the west bank of the river as well as new performing arts and convention centers. These three proposals recommend tearing down Century II, but two of the concepts maintain Century II, but not as it is currently used. One of the concepts includes an option for repurposing Century II and another alternative gives the 50-year-old structure an open-air design, kind of like a huge gazebo.

Previous studies have concluded market demand has outpaced what can be found in Century II, and recommended construction of new performing arts and convention space.

“It’s exciting to see the concepts include a new convention center, which would generate approximately $50 million in economic impact annually,” said Susie Santo, president and CEO of Visit Wichita. “The green space, as well as the recommendations for missed use – which could include restaurants and retail shops, would create an attractive convention district for meeting attendees to enjoy.”

Preliminary costs for the design concepts range from $970 million to $1.5 billion. A final plan will be presented to the community in January 2020.


The next step in the master plan process is to get public input on the concepts. Here are ways for you to provide your feedback on the preliminary design concepts.

At www.riverfrontlegacywichita.org/contact you can:

Take the scenario questionnaire

Share your feedback on the preliminary design concepts

Take a fun quiz Make Wichita Win has developed a short quiz to gauge community interest in amenities of the preliminary design scenarios.

Download the presentation View and download the presentation and scenarios presented by the Design Team during the Nov.14 Public Open House.

Others ways to engage include:

Request an in-person community presentation Email info@riverfrontlegacywichita.org to request an in-person presentation for your organization or community meeting.

Final Public Open House Attend the Public Open House on Jan. 14 for a presentation of the final design. Location and time to be announced.

Since 1996, Bonita has served as as Editor-in-Chief of The Community Voice newspaper. As the owner, she has guided the Wichita-based publication’s growth in reach across the state of Kansas and into...

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