Client: WI/SE Partnership for Growth

Gruen Gruen + Associates worked with the staff of the WI/SE Partnership for Growth and drew upon the data available at Wichita State University and the City of Wichita Planning Department in order to identify the types of private and quasi public activities that gain a real advantage from being located downtown and who’s presence will attract and encourage the growth of employment, visitor and residential activities. Office, retailing, housing, cultural and recreational activities were analyzed as it was recognized that the historically significant warehousing and industrial production downtown could be expected to diminish in scale and alter in form. The analysis conducted by GG+A was used to identify a fundamental set of strategic principles that helped downtown decision makers set realistic priorities and actions to strengthen those functions that have real opportunities for growth.

The market analysis conducted by GG+A was presented at a breakfast meeting sponsored by the WI/SE Partnership for Growth. Discussions with key decision makers in Wichita including the City Council and the Mayor were conducted in order to obtain agreement on a set of strategic actions. The focus of these actions was not only to bring into being a successful new downtown, but also to work towards enhancing the economy of the entire region by creating a critical mass downtown of cultural entertainment, education and sports attractions that will help the area attract and hold educated, talented and entrepreneurial employers and employees. The recommended actions are being implemented, and in 1996 construction started on a major new downtown hotel adjoining the city’s convention facilities. Following the completion of the hotel in 1997 and the private implementation of some aspects of the strategic plan, GG+A worked with the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation to prepare a solicitation for the redevelopment of two downtown parcels. One 4-6 acre parcel called for the development of an upscale urban residential neighborhood. The other 3-5 acre parcel was offered for development of a mixed use urban campus or business park.