WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Wichita’s City Hall is getting some improvements on the first floor. Tuesday, the Wichita City Council approved a plan to make renovations that should help citizens who have business in the building.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the City made temporary arrangements so most customers could get the help they needed on the first floor. The main focus was to help people requiring customer service from Water Utilities and Housing Community Services.
Tuesday morning, council members voted 7-0 to make permanent changes to the first floor. The $205,000 cost would come from Wichita Capital Improvement Program (CIP) funds.
“This is part of our long-range planning,” Wichita City Manager Robert Layton said. “I will tell you, though, that this project has been a little bit accelerated because it reflects the realities of COVID and how people wish to do business with us.”
Ben Nelson, interim assistant director of Public Works and Utilities, said the goal is to get more departments involved so that more City customers will have a centralized experience.
“These funds will help create a customer service center on the first floor of City Hall to make it more convenient for people to make payments or to seek information from us from multiple departments who will staff the center,” Nelson said.
He said it would not be a complete one-stop-shop because the City has some customer-related services in the Reagan Building, 271 W. Third Street.
“But if you need to do business in City Hall, you’ll be able to do it on the first floor in a very, in a much more convenient way than what you do today,” Nelson said. “Today, it’s cumbersome and confusing, I think, for our residents.”
The remodeled first floor will have a new information desk to greet people as they walk into the lobby. It will also have a new service desk for Water Utilities and Housing Community Services and necessary support and office space.
Nelson said most of the improvements would be on the east and north sides of the first floor. The money will also pay for new lobby seating areas, furniture upgrades or replacements, electrical and network cable changes, paint, carpet, and fixtures.
Mayor Brandon Whipple summed the remodeling project up. He said that citizens who would typically have to go to one of City Hall’s 13 floors to do business should be able to get their business completed on the first floor. He wants to see the most highly utilized departments represented on the first floor, so customers can get in and out of the building faster.
Now that the city council approved the plan, the bidding process is expected to begin on April 22. A city spokesperson said the earliest construction would begin is mid to late May.