In late 2008, Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer attended dozens of meetings throughout the community to discuss a vision of creating a downtown that is
"Everybody's Neighborhood", a vibrant community gathering place that connects the Old Town District, the new Intrust Bank Arena and Riverfront improvements including the Wichita WaterWalk and the Museum District. The response from the community to the Mayor's vision was overwhelmingly positive, and the meetings that the Mayor attended garnered hundreds of comments and suggestions from citizens about their vision for downtown Wichita.
In response, the Wichita City Council voted unanimously on December 16, 2008, to support Mayor Brewer's call for a community vision for the next phrase of downtown revitalization and approved the appointment of the Downtown Revitalization Steering Committee to help engage the public on a vision for downtown. Over the next several months the steering committee and its associated subcommittees held numerous public events to elicit community input on the need for a community vision for the next phrase of downtown revitalization. Again, the response from the community was overwhelmingly positive, with literally hundreds of people from all segments of the community taking the time out of their busy schedules to attend meetings and express support for the effort.
Responding to community support and their own visions of downtown revitalization, the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation (WDDC) Board of Directors unanimously voted on April 23, 2009, to commit $175,000 to a downtown master plan as seed capital to forge partnerships and secure additional funding through the City of Wichita and the private sector. Private sector contributions to the development of a downtown plan have exceeded $100,000.
On May 5, 2009, the City Council authorized $225,000 in funding and initiated the process to select a design team to prepare a downtown master plan. A Request for Qualifications was sent to over 170 local, regional, and national vendors. A total of 32 design teams responded, and a 13-member selection committee appointed by the City Manager reviewed and analyzed the responses, interviewed respondents, and selected Goody Clancy, an award-winning architecture, planning, and preservation firm with significant downtown planning experience, to develop the downtown master plan. The Downtown Revitalization Steering Committee endorsed Goody Clancy on September 25, 2009.
On October 13, 2009, the City Council approved a $500,000 contract with Goody Clancy to develop a downtown master plan. The plan took approximately 12 months to complete. The end result is Project Downtown - The Master Plan for Wichita that will be adopted as an element of the Wichita-Sedgwick County Comprehensive Plan.
On December 2-4, 2009, a series of community "walk-shops" were hosted at Eaton Place. Over 100 community members participated in the hands-on exercise that involved walking around downtown and photographing and providing a critical view of the "walkability" of downtown. Participants documented their feedback by submitting almost 800 photographs with comments regarding downtown's walkability.
Based on these photographs, participants identified focus areas for improving the "walkability" of downtown, and then using real-time electronic polling, voted on those focus areas that should receive the most attention in the downtown master plan.
On January 13, 2010, over 350 community members attended the Discoveries Workshop at the Scottish Rite Center. At the workshop, economic experts on the Goody Clancy team in the field of housing, office, hospitality, and retail presented their preliminary market research findings.
On February 27, 2010, over 100 community members participated in the day-long Downtown Wichita Charrette at the Wichita Art Museum. The Goody Clancy team presented the document entitled Progressive: Downtown Wichita Charrette that covered the latest market research findings as well as the team's initial observations regarding downtown transportation. Focus groups discussed transportation, economic development, urban design, downtown management, and retail and identified assets, opportunities, challenges, and potential vision strategies for each topic area. Participants voted on vision principles for downtown using real-time electronic polling, and eight breakout groups developed their own vision for downtown by applying notes, precedent photos, model blocks and related media to a large downtown map.
On April 28, 2010, almost 300 community members participated in a Focusing Workshop at the Scottish Rite Center. The Goody Clancy Team presented Draft Vision Concepts that gave a draft vision statement for downtown, laid out draft principles for achieving the vision, and provided a framework for implementing the principles. Participants provided feedback by placing a "dot" by the six vision principles that most resonated with them and by writing five proposed implementation strategies on "post-it" notes and placing them on a blog board.
On June 14, 2010, over 350 community members attended the Transform Workshop at the Scottish Rite Center at which the Downtown Wichita Draft Master Plan was presented. The Goody Clancy Team presented detailed recommendations for downtown in a presentation entitled "Transform: Draft Master Plan." Community members asked numerous questions and provided significant feedback regarding the draft plan. Community members also were invited to three topic area workshops that were held on June 16, 2010, at the Bank of America Theater. Over 150 community members attended these workshops and provided more in-depth feedback on the topics of "Enabling Development," "Creating Transportation Choices," and "Creating Unique Places."
On September 28, 2010, the final draft of Project Downtown was unveiled at a public open house in the atrium of Bank of America building. Almost 500 people attended the open house, at which the Goody Clancy Team made a presentaton entitled "Project Downtown - the Master Plan for Wichita." The public celebrated this milestone with a sampling of food from around Downtown and visual Downtown art by local artists. Information booths with information on three specific areas of Project Downtown: Creating Unique Downtown Places, Expanding Transportation Choices, and Enabling Development also were provided.
On November 18, 2010, the Wichita-Sedgwick County Metropolitan Area Planning Commission held a public hearing to consider adoption of Project Downtown - the Master Plan for Wichita. The Planning Commission unanimously voted to adopt the Plan as an amendment of The Wichita-Sedgwick County Comprehensive Plan.
On December 14, 2010, the Wichita City Council unanimously voted to adopt Project Downtown - The Master Plan for Wichita.
On February 23, 2011, the Board of County Commissioners for Sedgwick County voted to adopt Project Downtown - The Master Plan for Wichita.