City of Wichita officials announced today that public and private improvements related to the historic Naftzger Park area will start with the closing of the downtown park on May 21.
The park area public improvements are a centerpiece for pedestrian-friendly enhancements along Douglas, connecting the Old Town and Intrust Bank Arena entertainment districts. Within the next year, the Douglas corridor will see the completion of the new headquarters for Cargill Protein Group, the Union Station redevelopment, the Douglas Street railroad underpass, the Spaghetti Works mixed-use development, and the Hilton Garden Inn. The capital investment for the public-private improvements top $125 million.
"The renovated park will connect downtown destinations," Mayor Jeff Longwell said during his weekly news conference. "It will be a gathering space for residents, businesses and visitors."
The park improvements are the result of several community meetings, dating back over a year. Tom Balsley, an internationally-recognized architect with the SWA Balsley firm, designed the park with community input. Best practices for park operations were incorporated into the design. Park construction will start in June, funded with Tax Increment Financing. The park's reopening will occur in conjunction with the adjacent Spaghetti Works private development, expected to be completed fall 2019.
Naftzger Park items will be removed and placed elsewhere including the gazebo, which will be moved to O.J. Watson Park in June.