The Delano neighborhood is one of the oldest and most well established neighborhoods in the City of Wichita, and is located to the immediate west of the downtown area of Wichita. The neighborhood boundaries include: the Arkansas River on the north and east, Meridian and US 54 Highway on the west and south respectively.
The Delano neighborhood is in a state of transition. Once known for its quality of life and thriving business, it is now facing increasing pressure from outlying areas, changes in business and demographics. US 54 Highway stopped running along Maple in the 1950's and Lawrence Lumber, a major construction retailer, left in the 1960's. The last hardware store left the West Douglas Strip in the early 1990's. Some stores have closed; others have been replaced with "thrift" and low budget stores. Declining home ownership and quality of housing combined with excessive industrial and commercial zoning caused many residents to worry about the fate of the area.
Fortunately, there are a lot of positive things about the Delano neighborhood. A diverse mix of retail still remains. The neighborhood contains an impressive array of established community institutions (i.e. Lawrence Dumont Stadium, the Masonic Home and Friends University), active civic organizations, churches, activity centers, parks, historic structures, homes and other businesses exemplify the richness and diversity of this area. The new Exploration Place science musuem coupled with the proposed development of the River Corridor have provided a catalyst for the revitalization of the Delano Neighborhood.
Active members of the neighborhood and the City of Wichita recognized that the time was right to take a look at the neighborhood. Weaknesses had to be identified and addressed. Neighborhood strengths needed to be enhanced. It was time to start planning and to position the Delano neighborhood for a healthy and successful future.
In early 1999, the Delano Neighborhood Association, the Delano Business Association and the Delano Clergy Association developed a partnership - referred to as the 3D - to focus on improving the neighborhood.
This group, working with staff from the Wichita-Sedgwick County Metropolitan Area Planning Department, developed an outline of goals and objectives for neighborhood development and revitalization. Area residents and business owners have been exceptionally vocal in expressing their needs and concerns, with active participation in neighborhood meetings. In 1999, the City of Wichita was successful in obtaining a neighborhood revitalization planning grant from the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing to assist in the preparation of a neighborhood revitalization plan for Delano.
Law-Kingdon was retained in early 2000 to develop the neighborhood plan, working with a steering committee comprised of members of the Delano Neighborhood Association, the Delano Business Association, the Delano Clergy Association, Friends University, the Masonic Home and other concerned stakeholders.
Utilizing the initial SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities & threats) and community visioning work initiated by the Delano community itself, several public workshops were used as opportunities to discuss problems and issues in the area and assemble ideas for its future.
Both walking and driving tours of the neighborhood were conducted by the consultant team. Photographs were taken and base maps drawn. The existing environment of the study area was considered including storefronts, key historic homes and structures, the street and pedestrian environments, circulation patterns, and the condition of housing stock and infrastructure.
Although there was a great deal of pre-planning work that had been established with respect to preliminary (SWOT) and community visioning work (see Neighborhood Assessment & Analysis), the consultant designated one workshop to re-validate this work and ensure that no other opportunities or issues were overlooked. At a May 2000 workshop meeting, participants were asked to identify the most important key issues raised during the SWOT process. The following is a list of these key issues:
- Down zoning
- Housing improvement and code enforcement
- Preserving existing historic homes and other potentially significant structures
- Business improvement and diversity in the area
- Infrastructure improvements
- More community services and other needed recreational activities
During the same workshop meeting, a vision statement was outlined with specific goals. Three subsequent neighborhood meetings were held to generate resident input to the plan. This planning process resulted in this Neighborhood Plan containing a framework for physical improvement, for new development, and for redevelopment opportunities. Neighborhood goals, recommended actions, and partnerships are also outlined in this plan.