WDDC Initiatives

The following work programs outline the various goals the WDDC has established for the future development of downtown Wichita.  See for yourself how the WDDC intends to sustain the growth of our downtown.

Click over to the "Resources" tab to find a full listing of work programs over the years.

2011 Project Downtown Annual Report

During the course of 2009-2010, the Wichita community gathered to provide input on the development of a new Downtown Master Plan, Project Downtown. The comprehensive plan is serving as a blueprint for Downtown public and private sector investment for the next fifteen years. 

Through the partnership between the City of Wichita and the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation (WDDC), implementation strategies are being realized and we are seeing the Downtown envisioned in Project Downtown become a reality. In 2011, over $60 million in projects were completed, $94 million in projects were commenced and just in the first few months of 2012 we have seen over $20 million in projects announced. There has been the adoption of key policy such as the City of Wichita’s Public Investment Policy to assist in strategic investment by the city so as to complement private investment. Already this policy has served to drive an entire city block of development totaling approximately $45 million. With this development, Douglas Avenue will see the first new building constructed in thirty-eight years.

The 2011 Project Downtown Annual Report notes a number of projects and initiatives that have been accomplished in the plan’s first year of implementation. Project Downtown, through the implementation strategies, is providing the framework to develop a nationally recognized Downtown and region.

2009-2010 Projects

Downtown Master Plan: Project Downtown
The WDDC in partnership with the City of Wichita and the private sector launched the initiative to derive a community based Master Plan for Downtown Wichita. Through the partnership $500,000 was raised for the plan. The WDDC provided $175,000 in seed capital; the City of Wichita $225,000 and the WDDC through the private sector raised an additional $100,000.

Through a RFQ and RFP process, 32 firms were considered for the project. Four finalists provided public presentations with the final firm being selected in September 2009. Work immediately commenced:

  • In October, Goody Clancy participated in the City-to-City visit to Chattanooga Tennessee with 63 local business and government leaders.
  • In November, the first engagement of gathering data from the community initiated.
  • In December, the community’s first Walk-Shop was conducted. Over 100 people took 800 images of what they viewed as downtown assets, opportunities and challenges.
  • In January, 350 individuals attended to hear Goody Clancy present initial findings of their research in the areas of housing, commercial markets, hotel industry and retail. They also provide observations from the December Walk-Shop.
  • In February, approximately 350 individuals attended the WDDC’s second Annual Lecture. Jim Cloar was the featured speaker. Also during that time the Master Plan Charrette was held. Over 140 individuals from the community attended a seven-hour planning session to discuss and explore downtown’s future.
  • In April, the Goody Clancy team returned to present the plan’s vision statement and framework for the community’s consideration and input.
  • In June, the planning team presented the draft plan.
  • In September, the planning team presented the final plan and unveiled the plan's name - Project Downtown.
  • In November, the Planning Commission unanimously adopted Project Downtown
  • In December, the City Council unanimously adopted Project Downtown.

WDDC Annual Lecture Series
In 2009 the WDDC launched a new Annual Lecture Series. The inaugural lecture featured noted author Mr. Alexander Garvin. This event assisted in initiating the development of a new Downtown Master Plan. Approximately 500 individuals participated in the inaugural event.

In 2010 the WDDC brought in Mr. Jim Cloar. Mr. Cloar is noted for his work in the cities of Tampa, Dallas and St. Louis. Mr. Cloar has served in leadership capacities with Urban Land Institute and the International Downtown Association. Mr. Cloar’s lecture addressed how you implement the vision to reality. The event drew hundreds from the community.

The goal for this series is to bring national perspectives to Wichita development initiatives.

WDDC website
Providing pertinent, real time information is key to a successful downtown. In 2009 the WDDC launched a new website. Since its launch in August of 2009 to present, site visits have increased from approximately 2,600 to over 11,000 per month. The site offers information on the Master Plan, office market, residential, retail, events, transportation, downtown economic incentives and headline news.

The site is maintained by WDDC staff to allow for timely postings of current information.

?2P – www.parkdowntown.org
Building upon the success of the new website, the WDDC partnered with the City of Wichita to develop and launch a comprehensive downtown parking website. Launched in December of 2009, the site has become known as the place to visit for parking when attending an event at the INTRUST Bank Arena, Century II or Old Town. A successful mobile app of the site was launched in February of 2010.

Continuing to provide new options is a goal of the WDDC and Wichita Transit. Work is currently underway to provide a tracking mode of downtown shuttles on the site – launch date is fall 2010.

State Historic Tax Credits
In 2010 the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation in partnership with the City of Wichita and the private sector worked to restore the State Historic Tax Credit program. The program during the 2009 legislative session had a cap placed on the program limiting the effectiveness of the economic incentive. In 2010 Senate Bill 430 restored the program to the full 25% tax credit without an annual cap. The program will be an effective economic instrument in implementing the new downtown master plan.

Quick Facts
In 2009-2010 the following was accomplished:

  • Distributed over 100,000 downtown guides
  • Distributed over 10,000 parking guides
  • Over 25 public presentations were given to civic and business groups
  • Awarded over $55,000 in business grants
  • Contributed $81,500 in event sponsorships
  • Logged over 80,000 hits on the new website from August through December 2009
  • The www.parkdowntown.org site double page visits from the month of December 2009 to January 2010 – 16,000 to 32,000 respectfully
  • WDDC played a key role in signature events such as Tallgrass Film Festival and Chili Cook-off
  • Provided key assistance to First and Final Friday events

2008 Work Program

1. Develop a program to finance the installation of sprinklers into downtown buildings. (Business Development -Goal 1)

2. Create an incentive program to install high speed internet service in every downtown building. (Business
Development -Goal 1)

3. Revise zoning laws to prohibit certain non-compatible uses from locating on the ground floor of Douglas street buildings. (Urban Vitality -Goal 4)

4. Revise zoning and land use ordinances to prohibit surface parking as a new use on Douglas Street. (Urban Design -Goal 4)

5. Organize and host a Tour of Homes event. (Image Enhancement –Goal 8)

6. Create and manage an Up-Downtowner organization to support center city issues and concerns. (Organizational Development - Goal 10)

2007 Work Program

1. Create incentives to encourage art studios to operate in underused space. (Business Development -Goal 1)

2. Create a broker incentive program to motivate real estate brokers to market and lease downtown properties
to desirable tenants. (Economic Development -Goal 2)

3. Create and designate a taxicab stand in Old Town and other locations. (Urban Vitality -Goal 4)

4. Expand the holiday decorations to include more areas and more displays.
(Urban Vitality -Goal 4)

5. Revise zoning and business permit codes allow street vendors offering food and beverage items. (Urban Vitality -Goal 4)

6. Revise zoning and land use codes to allow use of pedestrian-oriented, sidewalk display signs for ground floor businesses. (Urban Vitality -Goal 4)

7. Identify refinements to street patterns to reduce the number of one-way streets.
(Urban Vitality - Goal 5)

8. Produce and place television advertisements promoting downtown businesses and activities. (Image Enhancement -Goal 6)

9. Develop and market a gift certificate program for downtown shops and restaurants.
(Image Enhancement -Goal 7)

10. Organize and sponsor a “Noel Night” holiday event. (Image Enhancement -Goal 8)

11. Evaluate moving the WDDC to a ground floor storefront location. (Organizational Development - Goal 9)

2006 Work Program

1. Host or sponsor a business fair to help recruit new retail and office users.
(Business Development -Goal 1)

2. Provide periodic updates about downtown growth and development opportunities to service providers that can influence decisions. (Business Development -Goal 1)

3. Revise zoning and land use codes to prohibit outdoor storage as a use downtown.
(Urban Vitality -Goal 4)

4. Revise zoning and land use codes for surface parking lots to require screening.
(Urban Vitality -Goal 4)

5. Publish a downtown walking tour brochure to highlight historic sites and other points of interest. (Image Enhancement -Goal 6)

6. Create welcome packets to educate new business owners locating into downtown about the WDDC, its services and other information about the center city. (Image Enhancement -Goal 7)

7. Organize and implement a “gallery crawl.” (Image Enhancement -Goal 8)

8. Evaluate the feasibility of offering voluntary memberships in the WDDC.
(Organizational Development -Goal 10)

2005 Work Program

1. Create new incentives to encourage the development of new, market rate housing.
(Business Development Goal 1)

2. Develop incentives to motivate owners to sell or renovate underutilized properties.
(Business Development - Goal 2)

3. Develop a landscaping and streetscape program to improve downtown. (Urban Vitality -Goal 4)

4. Evaluate the feasibility of a universal, inexpensive parking validation program.
(Urban Design -Goal 5)

5. Develop signs to better designate off street parking lots that allow public, daily parking.
Design and place signs at lots. (Urban Vitality - Goal 5)

6. Conduct annual surveys to measure changing attitudes and perceptions about downtown. (Image Enhancement-Goal 6)

7. Host a workshop to review financial benefits of using historic preservation tax credits to renovate buildings. (Business Development -Goal 1)

2004 Work Program

1. Examine Downtown building and land values to determine their accuracy in reflecting true market values.
(Business Development -Goal 1)

2. Clean and wash the storefronts of vacant buildings. (Business Development – Goal 1)

3. Develop a soft site map that identifies undeveloped or underdeveloped properties. (Business Development
- Goal 1)

4. Host a building renovation workshop in a renovated building to explain construction and financing options.
(Business Development -Goal 1)

5. Create a data base for all residential properties in downtown. (Business Development -Goal 1)

6. Develop a program to recognize beautification efforts. (Urban Vitality -Goal 3)

7. Revise zoning or land use provisions to require the removal of signs for businesses no longer in a specific
buildings. (Urban Vitality - Goal 3)

8. Create a window display program that allows non-profit and art groups to install displays in empty storefront buildings. (Urban Vitality -Goal 3)

9. Revise zoning and land use codes to require properties used for outdoor storage to be screened from public view. (Urban Vitality -Goal 4)

10. Revise zoning and business permit codes to allow street musicians to perform. (Urban Vitality -Goal 4)

11. Evaluate the feasibility of a lunchtime trolley service. (Urban Vitality - Goal 4)

12. Survey area residents to determine the types of retail, entertainment and services that would entice them to routinely visit downtown. (Image Enhancement - Goal 6)

13. Survey property owners in the SSMID to obtain their input about existing or new services. (Organizational Development -Goal 9)

2003 Work Program

1. Develop a recruitment packet with demographic and other business information.
(Business Development Goal 1)

2. Analyze underused or antiquated buildings to determine the feasibility of renovating or demolishing the structure. (Business Development - Goal 1)

3. Conduct a market study to identify and quantify market based retail and office voids.
(Business Development - Goal 2)

4. Develop and advocate a community driven process to create a new vision plan for downtown.
(Urban Vitality - Goal 4)

5. Create a parking improvement program. (Urban Vitality - Goal 5)

6. Publish a shopping, dining and entertainment guide for large scale distribution to visitors and workers.
(Image Enhancement -Goal 6)

7. Develop and direct a branding and image building campaign focusing on Downtown as a thriving and active
destination. (Image Enhancement -Goal 6)

8. Develop and publish a web site. (Image Enhancement -Goal 6)

9. Market center city businesses to convention groups and other visitors. (Image Enhancement -Goal 6)

10. Develop information about parking locations and costs and continually educate the public about parking
options. (Image Enhancement -Goal 7)

11. Evaluate the feasibility of expanding WDDC committees to engage more stakeholders in the revitalization
process. (Organizational Development - Goal 9)

12. Convene biannual meetings between City staff and Downtown merchants, property owners and residents to exchange information. (Organizational Development -Goal 9)

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