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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Wichita needs a to revitalize its down town

The Wichita Eagle ran a story on ideas that Wichita could use to improve the city’s downtown. Now if the ideas don’t fall on deaf ears it may be a first.
Wichita has a habit of doing the obvious and doing it for business interest only, often just listening to the land developers and doing what they want. And the developers just want to build on the edges of the city and make a quick buck before the mega malls and strip-malls of today, become the Twinlakes and Towne Wests of yester year. In other words the shops and new homes develop around the edge of the city and the middle sinks in and decays.
Downtown, Wichita, which once housed a Rector Book Store, Macy’s and others, is now littered with empty shop buildings and tall building that hold only a few offices. Gone are the food courts and dining areas. They are now out at the new part of town, near New Market Square. .

The Wichita Eagle looked at Oklahoma City; Boise, Idaho; Baton Rouge, La.; and Milwaukee for a look at how those towns revitalized their downtown areas.
All these new ideas take money--YOU’RE money. So that means finding a way for the taxpayer to pay for it. Some possibilities are sales taxes, bond issues, state funding, and public-private partnerships.
Some ideas from Oklahoma City included Bricktown, which is a lot like Wichita’s Old Town development; a new Ballpark, similar to the new Intrust Bank Arena that we put in Wichita; a renovated Myriad convention center; and a new library. They also managed to get new businesses downtown. Other towns listed by The Eagle brought in good restaurants to replace shabby bars, of which, Wichita doesn’t even have many of those.
So it is time for Wichita City leaders to put on their thinking caps and try some new ideas. That may give them a headache at first, but the people of Wichita would love to make use of their downtown again. And we don’t need a gaudy canal water way as they have in San Antonio Texas. We just need nice clean attractive businesses.
This is how the river often looks in Western Kansas.

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