The Wichita: Places for People Plan received the 2019 American Planning Association (APA) Kansas Chapter’s Outstanding Plan Award. The comprehensive plan — a collaboration between the Wichita-Sedgwick County Metropolitan Area Planning Department and Gould Evans — identifies significant neighborhood development areas that can provide sizable impact to the community.
As the United States commercial market evolves, many cities like Wichita, Kansas, are working to promote more walkable communities through infill development. Our client Mary Hunt, Principal Planner of the Advance Plans Division, Wichita Metropolitan Area Planning Department, is one of the passionate planners leading this transformation.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your role in producing Wichita: Places for People Plan.
Since late 2017, I served as project manager of the Urban Infill Advisory Project and provided support to the 29-member advisory committee. In this capacity, I helped develop an urban infill plan for the City of Wichita. This committee, in partnership with Gould Evans, produced Wichita: Places for People Plan — focused on a core area within Wichita called the Established Central Area (ECA).
2. There are a number of opportunities to create walkability in the ECA and the plan identifies six key places for potential redevelopment. What is significant about these chosen places?
The six areas identified in the Wichita: Places for People Plan are examples of what could occur if the typologies identified in the plan were implemented in a redevelopment effort. We deliberately chose locations in different parts of the city and at different scales of development. There are as many as nineteen other possible locations identified in the plan that also have the potential for infill development.
3. As the retail market continues to evolve, which defined place type do you think will be most impactful for Wichita in the future?
There is a traditional mall on the west side of Wichita that has experienced some changes in how the space is used today. Due to the size of the site, it is categorized in the plan as a “regional center” and is the largest place type identified in the plan. Should this location redevelop using the Places for People Plan typologies, it will have a considerable impact in the community, due to its size and prominence in Wichita.
4. Where in the ECA do you anticipate the most significant change in the near future?
It is difficult to predict where change will occur. The private sector will play a critical and dominant role in where and how redevelopment occurs. Areas of “stability” identified in the plan provide an opportunity with less risk for the developer, while identified areas of “opportunity” require more resources, including the building of social capital in neighborhoods.
5. What’s next for the Wichita planning team?
The next steps for Wichita: Places for People Plan are to begin the implementation phase. This includes building relationships with other city departments, formulating a marketing plan for the private sector, reviewing the existing zoning code for impediments, and exploring the option of forming a land bank.
Our Advance Plans division is also working on ongoing small area plans and the new Ballpark Village Master Plan.