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A roadblock to private investment in Wichita

As reported in The Wichita Business Journal:

The response from the Wichita Historic Preservation Board was positive. The six members liked the design and thought the project could be good for downtown.

They still voted no.

So for the moment, a developer’s plan for a downtown hotel and conference center is blocked by a law, the Kansas preservation statute. What is the problem with the proposed building? “[the problem] is that it incorporates too many materials and features inconsistent with the surrounding buildings. That includes glass, marble, stainless steel, redwood and balconies.”

This design is judged as “too modern” to be compatible with the “overall historic appearance of downtown.”

It is a sad day in Wichita when a law prevents an individual from making an investment in the improvement of his property, especially when private investment in downtown Wichita is desired and needed. This law needs to be repealed before it causes more harm.

Furthermore, it devalues private property rights when property owners or developers must subject themselves to the whims of groups such as the Wichita Historic Preservation Board. As John W. Sommer wrote in The Cato Journal:

With few exceptions, historic or landmark preservation illustrates the powerful force of cultural elites who impose their tastes on the landscape at the expense of the general public. City after city has been confronted by small groups of architectural aesthetes who are as highly organized as they are both righteous and wealthy. In city after city these groups have succeeded in stalling, or permanently freezing, the pace of physical and functional change. In the name of “heritage” or “culture” or “a livable city,” and invariably “in the public interest,” preservationists seek to legislate “charm” for others.

We would be much better off with out these two disruptive forces — the Kansas preservation statute and the Wichita Historic Preservation Board — acting against our economy and private property rights.

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One Comment

  1. Anonymous March 2, 2007

    The vote was actually 5-2. Not all of the HPB members are anti-development. There are voices of reason, but they are overridden most times.

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