Since the nationwide financial crisis of 2008-09, the Wichita community has experienced much lower construction of new homes than during the prior period of 1998-2008. Given the rising prices of construction materials, both renovations and new construction are financially difficult for homeowners and builders. Workforce housing is in critical demand, and some neighborhoods are in various stages of decline. Incentives for investment in existing neighborhoods can help provide affordable options to meet workforce needs and reinvigorate declining neighborhoods.
On June 19, 2019, the
Wichita: Places for People Plan was adopted as an element of the
Wichita-Sedgwick County Comprehensive Plan. This plan serves as the Urban Infill Strategy and is focused on the Established Central Area (ECA). The ECA has special significance for area employment, population, walkability, and community vitality. The planning process included significant public engagement, including a committee focused on developing incentives to spur reinvestment in the core part of the city. The plan identifies the "need to leverage limited public resources by implementing incentive tools in strategic ways to catalyze the development of walkable places in the ECA."
Since then, the City Council has taken several actions to address the housing situation, most of which were recommended by the committee, including establishing a land bank, devoting more resources to ridding neighborhoods of dangerous and unsafe structures, and allocating $5,000,000 to an Affordable Housing Fund, and approving a two-year pilot program of 20-year special assessments. Recently, people familiar with that effort suggested the City reignite this discussion and introduce additional incentives.
The Urban Infill Program would encourage construction of residential improvements in Formative areas of the ECA, shaded in pink on the Neighborhood Cycle Map:
Formative neighborhoods in pink as those areas in greatest decline and most in need of reinvestment. Other neighborhoods are categorized as Emerging (light grey), Flourishing (light blue) or Maturing (purple).
The Urban Infill Program begins October 3, 2022 and extends for two years, unless otherwise determined by the City Council.