WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Even though the pandemic slows down many efforts in 2020, the City of Wichita continues to make downtown the place to be.

Many driving on Douglas in the area in the last few years may have noticed its continued growth and development both visually and economically. 

Older and mostly unoccupied office buildings along the downtown strip are starting to see new life as apartments, hotels, parking lots, and new commercial and retail spaces. 

The City of Wichita says it will continue to develop and re-purpose areas near downtown, Oldtown, and Delano to encourage economic growth by promoting foot traffic, adding aesthetic value, and finding space for those who want to enjoy downtown working and living. 

A recent project by Downtown Wichita that has finished up this week has “glammed” the facade of a building next to the Pop-Up Park. The seven-floor building has mostly has gone untouched for a great deal of time. 

The project created by Emily Brookover-McMillian, director of community development for Downtown Wichita, tasked local artists to add some color to the bleak and deteriorating building front.

Artist Delilah Reed, who worked on the project with a small team for over 40 hours, tells KSN that Brookover-McMillan’s vision was a labor of love. 

“This project was Emily’s idea, and her thoughts on it and what she was trying to achieve with this project was to create love and excitement,” Reed said. “Just like, spread joy in our city and to spread excitement about it. So, I kind of feel like it’s a little love note to Wichita.”

Assistant City Manager Scot Rigby said that projects like this and new developments that will provide living, shopping, and entertainment are essential to the economic growth of downtown. 

“In our capital improvements program with the city, there’s obviously a component where there’s public art put into certain projects, and I think public art brings an extra amenity to a community,” Rigby told KSN. “So it’s just not a street, but it’s a livable street that has some softness to it, approachability. So these are all intentional, even with the baseball stadium. We purposely designed to have transit moving back and forth. And eventually, we’ll have a pedestrian bridge that brings people back and forth across the river.”

Rigby said development on a multi-family apartment complex, and a new hotel in Delano should be in the final stages early in the new year. New offices, retail spaces, and parking will be coming to the downtown area in the next year and the Kansas Health Science Center and a culinary and hospitality school.