This article was originally published by the Wichita Business Journal newspaper on June 1, 2018

Downtown Wichita residents are getting older, report says

By Bryan Horwath

More non-millennials are living in downtown Wichita.

That's according to an annual report released Friday by the Wichita Downtown Development Corp.

In the corporation's 2018 report, 14 percent of the downtown area's estimated population of just over 2,300 are listed as being in the 40-49 age range. That's up 11 percent in the 2017 report.

In the 50-59 age range, there was an increase from 15 percent to 19 percent, according to the 2018 report. While the percentage of children and 60-plus residents in downtown stayed about the same in the two reports, the percentage of people in their 20s living downtown actually dropped rather significantly.

In the 2017 report, 42 percent of downtown residents were in their 20s while just 33 percent were listed in the 20-29 age range in the latest report.

Jason Van Sickle, a downtown developer and the creator of the Wichita Downtown Neighborhood Alliance group, says he hasn't noticed a spike in older residents.

"Renters who choose downtown are largely young professionals, and they tend to be moving to (or back to) Wichita after finishing school or due to a job transfer," Van Sickle says. "There is a lot more interest in living downtown from people coming in from other cities, and less from people who already live in other parts of Wichita."

When it comes to diversity, however, downtown is still severely lacking, according to the report.

While the 2017 report showed that 84 percent of downtown residents were white, that number grew by three percentage points in this year's report. The dip came from slight decreases in the downtown African American and Asian demographics.

On the gender side, almost 70 percent of downtown residents are now male, according to the 2018 report. That's a jump of about 5 percent.

The report pulled U.S. Census data and used information from downtown property owners. Wichita State University’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research helped to compile the numbers.

Wichita Downtown Development Corp. spokeswoman Jaimie Garnett warned, however, that year-to-year comparisons of downtown report data sets may not be the best way to judge downtown trends.

She said when the 2020 Census numbers come out, contrasting those with the 2010 Census data sets would paint a more accurate picture.