Century II and the Wichita skyline on Jan. 28, 2016. Bo Rader The Wichita Eagle file photo
Century II and the Wichita skyline on Jan. 28, 2016. Bo Rader The Wichita Eagle file photo

Politics & Government

Get a front-row seat for Century II’s future

By Dion Lefler

dlefler@wichitaeagle.com

September 11, 2017 03:39 PM

UPDATED September 12, 2017 06:50 AM

City Hall will raise the curtain Tuesday on recommendations for what to do with Century II Convention and Performing Arts Center.

The City Council has scheduled a rare evening workshop to hear the reports from a consultant hired to assess the practicality of renovating or replacing the center, which was built in 1969 and serves as the base for major performing arts institutions including Music Theatre Wichita, the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and Wichita Grand Opera.

Aerial view of Century II

A look at Century II from the air. While the city of Wichita grapples with what to do with the aging Century II – either renovate or scrap and start over, we take a drone flight over the 48-year-old building that opened in 1969. (Video By Bo Rader / The Wichita Eagle)

brader@wichitaeagle.com

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The study is costing Wichita almost $300,000; estimates to renovate or replace the venerable structure range into tens of millions.

The primary goal of the study by the California-based Arup Advisory Inc. is to determine how and how much money the city could raise for improvements.

The general idea is to cede open land around Century II for private development, with an eye toward using increased income from that to fund the project. City officials have said they haven’t decided whether to privatize the operations of Century II, which is now run by the city.

Among those watching in anticipation is Wayne Bryan, the artistic director of Music Theatre.

Bryan has told the council that Century II is one of only a few venues in the nation with the resources to stage a Broadway-size show starting from scratch.

Bryan said Monday his organization is approaching the process with an open mind, but wants to preserve its capabilities to do on-site scenery, carpentry and costuming as it does now at Century II.

“We just know what it takes to do what we do and we hope that will always be folded into consideration about the future whether it’s in our current facility or a new one,” Bryan said.

He said he’s gotten no sneak previews of the recommendations from the Arup report.

The council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 455 N. Main.

Century II through the years

A look back at Century II over its nearly half-century existence, as seen by Eagle photographers. (Matt Riedl/The Wichita Eagle)

mriedl@wichitaeagle.com