Kansas State University has Aggieville. The University of Kansas has Mass Street. Wichita State University has plans.
WSU President John Bardo is looking to create a more student-friendly environment with the development of 17th Street.
Seventeenth Street, which is located on the south side of the campus, is already home to WSU’s public radio station, KMUW, Kirby’s Beer Store, Brennan Hall and a parking lot. Private developers own the rest.
“We’re encouraging those developers to begin to think about 17th Street as a university precinct where they focus more on support of university activities, restaurants, shops and those kinds of things,” Bardo said.
It is Bardo’s hope that as WSU grows, so will traffic on 17th Street.
“[One thing] a lot of people who build restaurants and stores…think about is how much traffic do you have driving by and they do car counts,” Bardo said. “And so by increasing the car counts there, we may be able to encourage that kind of development.”
Freshman applications are up more than 89 percent for the fall semester. Bardo thinks the completion of Shocker Hall will encourage more students to live on campus and that the increase in people will then, in turn, encourage developers to build businesses geared toward student life.
“These things create what we call a virtuous cycle,” Bardo said.
Students have also expressed their interests in making 17th Street a university social sphere.
“I think it’ll be good for the campus,” senior Jamie Duder said. “It’ll give Wichita a college-town feel versus just a city with a college in it.”
Only time will tell when this development might be set into motion. For now, there is a Facebook group advocating for development where anyone is welcome to comment on what they would want to see for the future of 17th Street.
“It would create opportunities for small business entrepreneurs in Wichita and job opportunities for students,” sophomore Sarah Reida said. “And by developing 17th Street, it would kind of bring the student body together and give it a more college feel.”