By Krista Miller
If you talk to developers and business owners, downtown Wichita is the place to be, but something could be holding it back.
"Increasingly we have noticed that vacant buildings have become hubs of crime and it has become a place where some people live. They sometimes steal the copper, they steal everything out of the buildings," said Istvan Tamas, Commercial Property District Manager with Weigand Omega.
Tamas manages several properties in downtown. He was among about 100 people who attended a meeting held by the Downtown Neighborhood Association to talk about downtown Wichitaís future.
"This whole idea is really good, because as downtown is developing and we have residential development going on, obviously the population of downtown is increasing, and safety and security is becoming more of an issue, not only for people that live downtown, but also for people who work downtown," added Tamas.
Jason Van Sickle sees the potential.
"Downtown has turned into a true neighborhood," said Van Sickle.
He lives and works downtown. As president of the Neighborhood Association, heís a bit of an expert on that part of the city.
"We have the densest population of restaurants, bars, and entertainment organizations, we have the densest population of social service organizations, and we have the densest population of residents who primarily live in apartment complexes," said Van Sickle.
But whatís missing, according to some at the meeting, is more police to patrol all that growth.
"Anytime you start seeing a greater number of people moving to a particular area, we know the growth in Old Town and the business district is huge," said Sergeant Brett Stull, with the Wichita Police Department.
One idea being tossed around is opening a downtown police bureau. But that idea would need city councilís approval.
"We need to provide better services with that, as well. So that means we need to have more officers, and we need to probably have a bureau that's specific to that area, so we can deal with people on a personal basis, every day, and know what's going on all the time," said Stull.
Van Sickle said the Downtown Neighborhood Association will continue to meet and discuss the issues that impact people who work and live in downtown Wichita.