Two recent events have led me to suspect that as part of the plan for the revitalization of downtown Wichita, we're going to see a sales tax proposed.
Posts tagged as “Downtown Wichita revitalization”
Articles about the redevelopment of downtown Wichita and its impact on the economic freedom of Wichitans.
In 2004, as residents of Sedgwick County were considering whether to vote for a sales tax to fund the downtown Wichita arena (now known as the Intrust Bank Arena and nearly ready to open), people wondered about parking.
So on a campaign literature piece, the arena supporters made this claim: "With the proposed garage structures, more than 10,000 parking spaces will be available within a three-block radius of the Arena (compared with the Coliseum's 4,500 spaces.)"
Today, on the eve of the arena's opening, these parking garages don't exist.
Last Friday a selection committee selected one company from four finalists to lead the planning effort for the revitalization of downtown Wichita. If some city leaders had their way, citizens of Wichita wouldn't be able to see this document until after the city council makes a decision to follow -- or not -- the recommendation of the selection committee. But thanks to city manager Robert Layton's decision, this document is now available for all to read. (Thanks also go to council member Jim Skelton, for his unsuccessful effort to release the documents.)
This past Tuesday and Wednesday, the four planning firms that were selected as finalists for the master plan for the revitalization of downtown Wichita made their public presentations.
In the campaign for the sales tax to build the downtown Wichita arena (Intrust Bank Arena), the idea of hosting NCAA men's basketball games was promoted as something that would happen if voters approved the arena.
Hundreds of millions have already been spent for downtown redevelopment and what do we have to show for it? In contrast, look at the benign neglect the city has had on the thriving east and west sides of town where projects on Maize and Webb roads have prospered despite heavy property taxes.
As part of its effort to revitalize downtown Wichita, the city wants to hire a planning firm. Four firms have been selected as finalists. Tuesday and Wednesday, (September 22 and 23), the firms will make public presentations as part of the selection process.
I had through that it would be great if the public would be involved in this selection process. To that end I asked -- first informally, then under the provisions of the Kansas Open Records Act -- for copies of the proposals submitted by the finalist firms. My requests were denied.
On the City of Wichita's cable channel 7, Kansas City's Power & Light District is presented as a model for the revitalization of downtown Wichita. Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer sees this district as Wichita's competition.
So yesterday I went to take a look for myself. And I agree with the mayor. It's a neat place. It's huge. It would be great if Wichita had something like it.
As part of Wichita's downtown revitalization effort, city leaders decided to hire a planning firm. Four firms have been selected as finalists, and a committee is in the process of evaluating their proposals.
Whether or not you think this planning process is wise -- and I happen to think it is not -- it seems to be the will of the city and the special interest groups that will benefit from this type of central planning. So, it seems, we might as well make the best of it. This would include selecting a planning firm that seems most likely to respect property rights, specifically: (a) rejecting the use of eminent domain to seize property, (b) respecting existing zoning and land use rights, and (c) rejecting the use of TIF districts and other forms of public subsidy. These are the things that I learned are important from my trip to Anaheim's Platinum Triangle, if a city wants to plan in a freedom-friendly way.
At yesterday's meeting of the the Wichita City Council, a matter was presented to the council that provided an illustration of basic economic principles that are foreign to the council.
I am here to ask you to deny the request for special assessment financing for the Lofts at St. Francis homeowners association to make repairs to their building.
I've spoken to this council about how the facade improvement program, in general, is bad public policy. In this case, it's bad public policy compounded by the waiver of principles or guidelines that this council recently set in place.
At Tuesday's meeting of the Wichita City Council, a privately-owned condominium association is seeking special assessment financing to make repairs to its building. In order for the association to succeed in its request, the council will have to waive two guidelines of Wichita's facade improvement program.
Bob Weeks discusses planning for downtown Wichita revitalization and what he learned on his trip to the Platinum Triangle in Anaheim, California. Host Tim Brown and guest Randy Brown also appear. From the KPTS Television show Kansas Week, August 14, 2009.
The danger we face is that Wichita's plan will end up like almost all other urban plans -- a top-down effort micromanaged by politicians and bureaucrats, people whose incentives are all wrong. We already have the structure in place, with our mayor promoting the plan for downtown as his signature achievement, and a tax-supported downtown development organization headed by a young and energetic planning professional.
There is a different way to go about redevelopment, a way that respects freedom and property rights, while at the same time promising a better chance of success.
A recent letter in the Wichita Eagle by Alden Wilner of Bel Aire worries that "flat, dusty and hot" parking lots in the neighborhood of the Intrust Bank Arena (formerly known as the downtown Wichita arena) in downtown Wichita will hamper downtown revitalization.
I don't know if this claim is true or not, but I do know that the solution Wilner proposes -- "an area wide light-rail system" -- would be an absolute disaster for Wichita. These systems are costly to build and operate, suffer from low-ridership almost everywhere they are built, and have many other problems.