Over the past six weeks members of the Capital District Project have been working to consolidate ideas brought forth in the Kansas Avenue Design Workshops into a possible concept plan. This plan was presented to the City Council at their meeting on Tuesday, December 14 at 6 p.m. as they consider including a line item for the project in both their 2011-2012 capital improvement budget and 2011-2015 capital improvement program.
Here’s a fly-through of the concepts that were presented to the City Council:
Below are a few concepts showing what our downtown could look like! (Click any image to enlarge.) Remember these are are only potential concepts, final plans will need additional information gathering, engineering and finalizing to ensure they meet both the desires of the community and the needs of the folks who live and work downtown.
This shot looks North up Kansas Avenue. It’s been narrowed to three lanes to provide enlarged sidewalks with spaces for outdoor dining, trees and grass, art, water features and child-friendly areas. There were many good ideas about uses for that space, so many in fact we had to find away to bring several together! To do so we’re introducing the idea of themed blocks. The space outside of the smaller shops will be setup for covered (and possibly heated) outdoor dining and retail. Just outside of Westar we’re imagining an electrical themed block with lots of fun and educational components for kids young and old!
Between 9th and 8th street, CoreFirst has indicated they’d be interested in helping us out with some fantastic art work, as well as, a permanent home for the Chinese Lantern, the sculpture Topeka received as a gift from China earlier this year.
The west side of Kansas Avenue could feature a winding water feature that mimics the Kansas River:
We have big ideas for the intersection of 8th and Kansas, as well as the blocks on either side!! We’ve created two sets of concepts for the intersection, one with traditional clock towers and one with a bit more modern approach. The towers provide a number of possibilities from sound and light during events, to navigational points of reference with way-finding information for visitors. The large video boards on each side could be used to promote upcoming community events, broadcast events going on downtown or show the big game. Below are the traditional ones:
Here are the more modern tower concept designs:
Perhaps one of the more exciting features of this concept is our plan to bring more than 50 additional street level parking spaces to downtown! This was a request that we heard a lot from the community workshops–more street level parking. These new spaces, are proposed to be free for the first two hours just like ones on Kansas Avenue. They can also function like parking lots when the Avenue is closed for events like parades. Our goal was to create spaces that can function multiple different ways!
Between 8th and 7th Street, we’d like to add covered (and possibly heated) outdoor dining and retail space. As well as some additional green space with a Great Plains theme. This would feature low berms and boulders that kids could climb and play on equipped with sprinklers for splashing.
Specifically, what is the Capital District Project asking the City Council for?
We’re asking for the City Council to budget $1 million in the 2011-2012 capital improvement budget, and for $2 million a year for the two years (2012 and 2013) in the capital improvement program (CIP) budget. In addition to this money, the Capital District Project team has been working on raising private dollars to go towards the project. Our goal is to secure at least a half million dollars in private sector contributions.
So what happens if they approve this project in the CIP budget?
Then we start working on creating the final version of the plan. We expect that to take most of 2011. It will include going back gathering more public input to further flesh out some ideas. By 2012 our goal is to begin construction.
Do these concepts include any green features?
Yes, there are several aspects that promote sustainability and even more could be included as final plans are coming together. The over-hangs for the outdoor cafe space can be constructed to collect rain water to reuse for landscaping. Solar and wind energy can be collected with other elements incorporated in these concepts. Also, landscaping selected for the area will be native to this area and not require an extraordinary amount of resources to maintain.
Why do these concepts center around three lanes?
We’ve put a lot of discussion into the number of lanes on Kansas Avenue and spent time modeling the traffic that would flow through the concept’s road layout. Roads are typically assigned a Level of Service from “A” to “F”, with an “A” being best, and “F” being so bad that traffic is nearly at a stand-still. Average roads are generally built to be a class “C”. The last time a formal traffic study was performed on Kansas Avenue in the late 90′s, it ranked as a “B”. At the time it was actually modeled as three lanes with center street parking. This makes the numbers much more useful in our concepts as we’re essentially talking about the same size roadway even without the center street parking. The modeling we’ve done based off that information also projects this concept ranking as a “B”. Because of this, we are comfortable making the road three lanes allowing as much space as possible for other amenities, but still leaving plenty of capacity for emergency vehicles, parades and everyday deliveries to downtown merchants. Currently, our concepts depict three lanes, but we’ve looked into four-lane options. A full blown traffic study will need to be performed prior to finalizing a plan so we can be confident that it’s the best for our community.
Can I see the power-point of the presentation that was given to the City Council?
Yes, you can download the PDF here.
Please check back as we will continue to add questions and answers to this page. We also hope to include additional images and a fly-through of the concepts shown above.
We’re interested in your feedback and want to hear what you think about these concepts – remember these are only possibilities, nothing here in set in stone. If you’re in support of downtown revitalization and like where these concepts are headed, please consider attending the City Council meeting on Tuesday night, or emailing the City Council to express your approval. A simple email to this address can go a long way!