DODGE CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – It’s been in the works for years and now Dodge City’s Downtown Streetscape Project is nearing the end of its design phase — boosting its potential is a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation. 

KDOT awarded a max amount of $2 million to support Dodge City’s nearly $10 million, primarily STAR Bond-funded, endeavor in renovating its downtown.

“This is tremendously exciting. This is the heart of Dodge City, this is the core of our community,” said Melissa McCoy, Dodge City Assistant City Manager.

The grant awarded from KDOT is part of its Cost Share Program and the Front Street renovation is one of just 30 projects across the state to be named a recipient.

Dodge city leaders say the project is an investment in their community. “We want to be able to capture more visitors through welcoming experience of our downtown, but also create some great quality of life amenities that our locals and folks in the region will be able to enjoy as well,” said McCoy.

The city has partnered with LK Architecture and TranSystems to revitalize the downtown area and spark interest in business investment.

Some of the main focuses of the project are updating aging infrastructure, increasing safety for visitors, and boosting economic development.

“We have over 50 businesses and property owners that are in support of this project,” said Coral Lopez, Main Street Director for Main Street Dodge City. “It’s exciting for Dodge City — not just for Dodge, but the entire region.”

Lopez continued, “Dodge City is a tourism hub, we attract a lot of tourists from the historical aspect, but there’s a lot of stuff we host currently in our downtown.”

The new project will create space for festivals, concerts, and markets and allow for new upper story housing opportunities, among numerous other changes. When the project breaks ground city officials want to stress the public be informed that the businesses will still be accessible.

“Even though you’re going to see construction and you’re gonna have to possibly take a different route to a business, they’re still open,” said Lopez.

Officials say the renovations will boost the existing strong tourism pull to the city, which in total brings in nearly 3.5 million visitors each year. The downtown brings in a respective 360,000 visitors alone.

“It will be a really great opportunity to welcome people back down to our downtown, so this will just help build on what’s already started,” said McCoy.

The project is more than just looks. It’s driven heavily by the need for updates to sewer lines, utilities, sidewalks, and other structural repairs. It will keep elements of the current downtown such as El Capitan. The well-known icon will still be on display, just moved slightly over. 

Right now, the city is finishing up the design phase and will move on to bids for the project in late August through October. Dodge City officials say the project is expected to break ground in early 2022.