Wichita's Riverwalk Plan

By: KAKE News
By: KAKE News

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San Antonio is famous for it. Oklahoma City now has one and Wichita will have one in the next few years.

We're talking about a Riverwalk.

Oklahoma City, which is just a couple of hours South of Wichita on I-35, opened their Riverwalk in July of 1999.

The Oklahoma City Riverwalk was funded by a temporary one cent sales tax approved by voters. It cost $23.1 million to build.

Wichita's Riverwalk project will be funded by a public private partnership between the city and a group of four investors known as Riverwalk.

They are putting up $100 Million and the city will put in $30 million.

Karen Ocker, Downtown OKC Inc., says, "I think it's brought about a spirit of revitalization not only economically but also in our citizenry."

The OKC Riverwalk, is a mile long canal that flows between a row of buildings in Oklahoma City's historic brick town area.

After just three years since the Riverwalk opened, the number of visitors to the area went up from 1.5 million to 4 million people a year.

Karen Ocker, Downtown OKC Inc., says, "this brings a destination to the area, something for people to visit as they come to lunch, something to meander and enjoy the area, something to bring their kids to the area, a meeting place."

The main difference between OKC water walk and Wichita's is these historic buildings were already here and the canal used to be a street. Wichita will start with a clean slate.

Dave Burk, Riverwalk Developer, says, "we have 25 acres in the heart of our downtown, there's no historic buildings and no buildings that are worth anything, so we'll be scraping the site. So our waterway will be able to be put in the ideal location."

That location will start just South of the Wichita Boathouse and run Northeast to Lewis street. Eventually the waterway will wind nearly a half a mile up to Waterman and Main.

Wichita's water walk like Oklahoma City's will be filled with office, entertainment, restaurant and retail space. The Wichita water walk will also have housing, with high end apartments and condominiums.

A Wichita economist predicts the Riverwalk will bring 2 million people downtown every year which will mean millions of dollars flowing back into the Wichita economy all from one little stream of water.

The city is hoping to start construction on the waterwalk next summer. They hope to be completely done with the whole 25-acre project in about five years.

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