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A report for the Wichita City Council says there was $10.7 million dollars in public investment for downtown revitalization projects in 2012, with $84.1 million in private investments. A council member questioned that report during a presentation Tuesday.
Interim council member Paul Gray said there are some public funds included in the private investment number, and he encouraged city staff to be more clear in reporting the financial numbers for downtown development. Gray said he supports the revitalization efforts, but he feels the public would "buy in" to the program more easily with better reporting.
The city's downtown projects manager, Scott Knebel, said city staff is not trying to "skew" the numbers. He agreed with Gray, saying that staff will be working to better define the financial numbers.
The report on Project Downtown lists $112 million in projects that are currently underway in the downtown area. Mayor Carl Brewer and council members praised staff and the consulting firm of Goody Clancy for their work on the revitalization program.
Brewer said the program is bringing the "energy that we want in the downtown area."
Wichita Downtown Development Corporation President Jeff Fluhr also talked about the recent purchase of the Union Station and the plans to create a retail and office center there. He said with all of the projects underway, "this city will not look the same in two years."
Upcoming projects include the new Kansas Leadership Center on Douglas Avenue, the Lux apartments in the former KGE building and new apartments for the Waterwalk development.
Answering a question from council member Jeff Longwell about making the Arkansas River more active, Knebel said a group has come up with a concept for a "boathouse" that would provide recreational activities. Knebel said city staff will look at possible development partners and finances for a boathouse project.