Wichita in Sedgwick County, Kansas — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
A History of the Vision
Downtown Wichita and the adjacent warehouse district were in decline. An exodus of businesses and retailers left many buildings in the area dilapidated and vacant. Fortunately, a committed group of professionals stepped forward, determined to turn the situation around. They created the Old Town Association.
One of the individuals leading the charge was architect-planner David Burk. In 1987, he and a partner, Rich Vliet, formed Marketplace Properties and master-planned the warehouse district for mixed-use redevelopment that included entertainment, dining, specialty retail and residential units. They took their plan to the City of Wichita.
It was a case of great timing. Looking for a revitalization partner, in 1989 the City named Marketplace Properties the preferred developer for Old Town. The City would pay for some street work, parking, lighting and a farm-and-art market, while Sedgwick County pledged infrastructure assistance.
All financing dried up when the Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported groundwater pollution in the area. In 1991, the Wichita City Council
Marketplace Properties' first endeavor transformed Modern Cleaners into Larkspur [Restaurant & Grill]. It has been a popular draw since opening in 1992. From 1993, Burk continued his quest alone. With the assistance of Joan Cole, the district's city council representative, and Chris Cherches, city manager, Burk oversaw the completion of projects including the Farm and Art Market and Plaza, the River City Brewery and the Kansas Ballet. Many Wichitans now call Burk's Mosley Street Apartments and Innes Station Apartments home.
The historic yet greatly deteriorated Keen Kutter warehouse presented a major challenge. Burk developed 11 different concepts over a nine-year period. He finally partnered with entrepreneur Jack DeBoer to develop the Hotel at Old Town. With its opening in 1999, it brought luxury accommodations to the area while retaining its rich heritage.
Old Town continued to thrive. Plans included another Burk project, Old Town Square, which featured a six-screen movie theater developed by Bill Warren. The project included office, entertainment and retail space while the City provided parking, brick streets, lighting and a central plaza.
David Burk's patience, determination and vision have worked to make this district a vital community
[Inset text reads]
In March 1999, the 115-room Hotel at Old Town opened at a cost of nearly $11 million.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Charity & Public Work • Entertainment • Environment • Industry & Commerce. A significant historical month for this entry is March 1999.
Location. 37° 41.239′ N, 97° 19.663′ W. Marker is in Wichita, Kansas, in Sedgwick County. Marker is on Mosley near 1st Street, on the left when traveling north. Marker is on the plaza immediately north of the Museum of World Treasures. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 835 East 1st Street, Wichita KS 67202, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Warehouse District (here, next to this marker); Riding the Rails (here, next to this marker); Simmons Hardware Company (here, next to this marker); Simmons Hardware Company / Hockaday Paint Company (here, next to this marker); Coleman Company (here, next to this marker); Union Station and the Santa Fe (here, next to this marker); Johnson-Frazier Building / Cox Produce Company (here, next to this marker); Innes Wholesale Furniture / City Ice Delivery (here, next to this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Wichita.
Also see . . . Oldtown Wichita History. (Submitted on June 17, 2012, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Credits. This page was last revised on September 17, 2020. It was originally submitted on June 17, 2012, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 379 times since then and 16 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on June 17, 2012, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.