Old Town proposal could expand district

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WICHITA -- Old Town may soon become an entertainment district, and it could mean big changes for what some see while in the night-time hub.

Not only will criminals face harsher penalties in the area, but businesses will see change too.

The area will be defined for the first time and expand into the downtown area, said Jason Van Sickle, president of the Old Town Association. The new boundaries would be pushed north to Central, south past Douglas, east to Wabash and west to St. Francis.

He said the plan will revitalize the area.

"It's time for Wichita to re-experience the Old Town and what we have to offer, he said.

On Tuesday, the City Council will hear a proposal on making Old Town an entertainment district. Van Sickle said businesses have worked on the proposal for a couple of years.

Though some may be unsure about the positive change it would bring, Van Sickle assures it will benefit Old Town and Wichita.

"I think when you're changing and growing, people are always a little bit hesitant to see what the changes are going to mean to them," he said. "They will be seeing more foot traffic and people wanting to find out more about their businesses."

By creating an entertainment district, Ryan Gates said it's an opportunity for partnership. Gates is a managing partner of Heroes Sports Bar in Old Town. He said that businesses in the association have expressed interest in partnering with other downtown businesses, festivals and concerts, like at Intrust Bank Arena.

"You need foot traffic," Gates said. "You need people that want to come downtown, so you want other businesses to succeed so this is, I think, a really great opportunity for us all to say, hey, I'm not just one business competing against all of you. We're all a bunch of businesses and the better we all do... if one business does great, it's going to be good for another one, so we all succeed in this. It's a great partnership opportunity. That's what I'm excited about."

"This is a great opportunity for us to really, you know, get some excitement, get some fun going back in the core of Wichita, which as a city we need," he continued.

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