Plaza West Areawide Study

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Welcome to the Plaza West Areawide Study! Stantec, in partnership with the Flint Hills Regional Council and the City of Manhattan, is embarking on a four-month planning study for an area at the southwest corner of the intersection of Anderson Avenue and Seth Child Road. As this study is underway, we are actively seeking community feedback and we welcome your interest in this project. Follow along to learn more about the site, stay up to date with our process, and get involved today!




A Virtual Open House was held Thursday November 18, 2021


Thank you for your participation!
Below is a recording of the meeting followed by key slides from the presentation.



Click to view a video recording of the meeting:



Key slides from the presentation with descriptions below:

This planning study could be considered a kick-off conversation to a long-term redevelopment process. We acknowledge that this process will take TIME. However, this is also an opportunity to identify the best ways to increase the utilization of this site, while decreasing the impacts of flooding and improving resiliency.

Flooding impacts have fundamentally shaped our redevelopment plan. It was our top concern from the beginning and guided the design. There are a number of pros and cons that could prevent these discussions from moving forward. While market potential and community need are one proponent of moving forward, flooding concerns need to be evaluated and addressed first and foremost.

Flooding: It's important to acknowledge the previous flooding events that have occurred at Plaza West and how the presence of the 1% (100-year) floodplain will impact development patterns on this site. While a significant area of the southern portion of the site is impacted by the 1% (100-year) floodplain, including three existing buildings, a large swath of land is also situated outside of this 1% (100-year) floodplain and is prominently adjacent to the Anderson Avenue corridor. To better address and protect this site from future flooding events, it will be important to concentrate development activity close to Anderson Avenue, decrease the amount of concrete on the site to better absorb stormwater, and construct new buildings that can better withstand the impacts of flooding or are elevated to reduce the likelihood of damages from flooding


For redevelopment to be successful, it’s imperative that recommendations don’t negatively impact other properties throughout the watershed, but also important that development improve the current conditions at Plaza West– both in terms of resilience as well as economic viability.

It’s significant to note that, even beyond the area within the floodplain, there are more than 11 acres of developable land outside of the floodplain that can support reinvestment and revitalization. This is a very large area and there are many ways to address the impacts of flooding events.

It will be important to concentrate redevelopment at the highest portions of the site, outside of the floodplain (along Anderson Avenue) and consider bringing in modest amounts of fill to bring other portions of the site above floodplain elevation. In addition to fill, best management practices (BMPs) such as bioswales, rain gardens and decreasing the amount of surface parking/impervious area, will also help improve resiliency from flooding.

It’s also critically important that this increase in fill at the site, does not negatively impact the surrounding watershed (both upstream and downstream). To better study this issue, our team has completed in-depth flood modeling (which utilizes the most current data available by the City) to study how development at Plaza West could impact the area.


In addition to concentrating development activity at the highest elevations of the site, we’ve overlayed preliminary redevelopment footprints so that we can see which areas will be most prone to flooding and prioritize locations where it would be beneficial to fill in with moderate amounts of earthwork.

It is not recommended that the entire site be filled above floodplain. However, to better understand how this might impact the watershed, we evaluated how a full earthwork fill scenario might affect the area as a ‘worst case’ scenario, to identify any potential red flags, early on in these discussions.


In total, we analyzed two flood models, conducted with varied amounts of fill to bring developable area above floodplain elevations. These scenarios included full fill, intermediate fill, and partial fill, and both flood models with these fill scenarios indicated few flooding impacts downstream or upstream.

In all three instances, even with the ‘worst case’ scenario of full fill to the site to bring it above flood plain, the hydrologic model indicates that stormwater and flooding impacts to the Wildcat Creek watershed would not be significant due, in part, by how stormwater flows throughout this site.

Hydrologic analysis indicates that, while not a levee, the Railroad Embankment of the Linear Trail segregates a lot of the hydrology at Plaza West from the surrounding watershed.


The basin in Plaza West can be loosely thought of like a bucket in a bathtub. Fill within the bucket is unlikely to impact the flow of water down the bathtub drain.

The Plaza West area is isolated within the Wildcat Creek Watershed and retains a lot of stormwater, north of the Railroad Embankment of the linear Trail. It’s like a bucket within a bathtub, if you think of Plaza West like a bucket and the watershed like a bathtub.

Although it is not a levee, the Railroad Embankment of the Linear Trail separates the stormwater flow of Plaza West from the rest of the watershed. The primary instance when floodwaters from the watershed would impact Plaza West (and vice versa) are when the embankment is overtopped.


The flood models studied the hydrology of Plaza West, as well as how it may impact the greater watershed both up stream and down stream. Both flood models, indicated there would be little negative impact. Even with the worst-case fill scenario (with the entire site brought up to an elevation above the 100-year floodplain) a 100-year event would not exceed the banks of the Wildcat Creek, as illustrated by this image.


A full technical analysis of the impacts of a proposed development has not been done yet. These are all conceptual ideas, but anything definitive that gets proposed would need to be analyzed like any development in the City, or in the floodplain specifically.

At a planning level perspective, there have been no red flags present that would suggest continued discussion and analysis of this site would not be worthwhile. It’s in the best interest of the City, property owners and stakeholders, to move forward with identifying potential opportunities to improve the Plaza West area.

Key take-aways from this analysis include:

  • Cluster development on higher ground, along Anderson Avenue, outside of floodplain
  • Decrease the amount of impervious area, such as concrete surface parking lots, throughout the site, remove much of existing pavement to increase permeability for stormwater and improve resiliency for the site
  • Determine feasibility of maintaining existing buildings. Work with property owners to address better resiliency, if they stay. Consider replacing with smaller footprint, higher density buildings, if they’re removed.
  • Continue assessments of flooding impacts at each level of the development process.
  • This will be a long-term conversation, which will require continued analysis and community dialogue. Redevelopment will not happen overnight. However, initial review indicates that redevelopment can occur in a way that minimizes impacts from flooding and is more resilient from future events.

Due to variables in hydrology, no plan can completely guarantee against potential flooding impacts. However, redevelopment improvements can help reduce likelihood of negative impacts AND improve the site for a higher and better use by the community– which is one of the primary objectives of the EPA Brownfields grant.


In addition to looking at existing conditions and previous concepts for the site (including planning concepts from students at Kansas State University) a market analysis was completed to better understand the current market trends and conditions to better support the long-term viability of redevelopment. Among the key highlights from this exercise included opportunities for Retail, Multi-Family Housing and Hospitality.

Retail:

  • Improved Access is an important precondition for new retail, services, restaurants, etc.
  • There may be demand for a character district that emphasizes dining and entertainment
  • This may address an unmet need in the Manhattan region, and leverage the presence of higher income households in the area around Plaza West

Multifamily Housing:

  • Multifamily Housing is a good candidate for the site
  • It should target a medium income rental demographic in comparison to recent housing developments
  • The market for new housing can be strengthened
  • By tying into existing site amenities—multiuse trail and Wildcat Creek
  • By creating a set of retail and entertainment amenities on the site
  • Through capitalizing on the opportunity for excellent landscape design

Hospitality:

  • Hotel development is potentially viable, and could be synergistic with a dining and entertainment-oriented retail district
  • Site enhancement through landscaping and attracting compatible development might increase the attractiveness of the location to a hotelier.


An initial community open house, to help kick off the project, was held at the end of May and provided an opportunity for participants to share their thoughts about the study area and visit with the planning team. Among open opportunities to visit and tour the site, there were also two stations to collect feedback, including a six-word story– based on Ernest Hemingway’s famous writing approach. Among the feedback received from both the six-word story and the site tour included:

Six-Words Story:

  • inspiring/ transformational
  • restaurants, grocery/ retail stores, mixed-used buildings
  • family activities, entertainment, community gathering, and open space

Site Tour:

  • green space, outdoor recreational center
  • retail/restaurants
  • connectivity to more neighborhoods


Based on this information, feedback from the community, and the existing conditions analysis completed by the planning team, a schematic design concept was assembled that began to lay out a general framework and organization for the site. Key aspects included new construction located as close as possible to the Anderson Avenue corridor– with a mix of multi-family housing, commercial and hospitality uses. Two of the existing buildings on the site would remain and all concrete areas at the southern portions of the site would be redesigned into greenspace that would both support community use and activities, as well as help absorb stormwater runoff. All new construction on the site would be designed in a way that is resilient to flooding– with only upper levels designated for housing.

This planning scenario concentrates new, denser, development outside of the floodplain (with smaller footprints and multi-stories), decreases impervious areas, and may improve current drainage on the site by decreasing the impervious area within the floodplain.


Along with a recap of existing conditions, this information was presented to stakeholders at a second community open house in early August. An overview of the feedback provided at the Second Community Open House included:

  • Support for mixed-use concepts
  • Positive feedback for greenspace and reduction of entrances to Anderson
  • General reassurance about intent of development and participants were, overall, supportive of concepts
  • Flooding concerns remain and should be continued to be evaluated at each stage of the re development process
  • Enthusiasm around potential branding and entertainment options:
    • Esports Arena
    • Family Hub
    • Outdoor recreation


As this diagram illustrates, this mixed-use approach would elevate the visibility of development at Plaza West as well as concentrate new construction outside of the floodplain.

The amount of impervious area that currently exists, would also be decreased throughout the site to help address and improve the stormwater challenges that remain.


Planning scenarios have focused on concentrating development outside of the floodplain, as much as possible and have studied the impacts of filling in portions of the site, for new construction, that would bring them above floodplain elevation. Previous planning concepts also considered access on to Anderson Avenue and how that might support additional multifamily housing, west of the Public Works facility. While it’s important to acknowledge the possibilities for multifamily housing in this area, the planning concepts we’re sharing this evening consider how the adjacent residential neighborhoods may remain as they are, and how that might impact access points into the site, from Anderson Avenue.

Because this planning study is looking at high-level development scenarios, we don’t have a definitive direction for how Anderson Avenue will be improved– particularly into/out of the site and at the intersection of Seth Child Avenue. For the time being, we have developed these concepts with the assumption that Seth Child will remain at-grade and all existing KDOT Right-of-Way will be maintained. Access from Anderson into Plaza West will need to be further vetted with the City and Property Owners, particularly regarding an extension of Wreath Avenue, before any redevelopment can move forward.

In addition to thinking about planning scenarios, community feedback also suggested we consider branding opportunities for this site. To-date, this area has been referred to as ‘Plaza West’, however, it has been suggested that ‘Wildcat Landing’ might be a future branding opportunity and we’ve included this new designation with each of our planning scenario.


While the amount of impervious area has been reduced, and development has been concentrated outside of the floodplain (on the highest ground), the existing buildings will remain susceptible to flooding events. Should they be replaced with new construction, that is located on portions of fill that would bring the developed area fully above floodplain?

Three plan concepts have been developed to explore these possibilities.


This first planning scenario considers how the two existing buildings can remain at the site. While this does leave them open to continued impacts from flooding, by concentrating new construction near Anderson (outside of the floodplain) and with higher density, multi-story structures, the impervious area at the site will be reduced, which will also help reduce impacts from flooding. Existing impervious area on this site is 66% and pervious area is 34%. This plan reduces impervious area by 19%.

Key Considerations also include:

  • A Main entrance (and controlled intersection) has been proposed at Waters, with two right-in/right-out access points into Wildcat Plaza to the east and West
  • This Main entrance has been planned to be developed with multi-story, mixed use construction and on-street parking, reminiscent of roadways along Poyntz or in Aggieville
  • Multifamily housing could be developed west of the main entrance, with tuck-under parking and surface lots interspersed with green space and stormwater best management practices (such as rain gardens and native plant materials)
  • Mixed-use commercial developments, including hospitality, restaurant and some retail, could be constructed to the east of the main entrance. There are still many opportunities for how the hospitality development might evolve, including ongoing recommendations from interested stakeholders and the community (including an E Sports Arena)
  • A primary entrance plaza, near the two large existing buildings, provides viewsheds and linkages to outdoor gathering spaces and an amphitheater venue at the southern portion of the site.
  • A food hall/community venue is also introduced southeast of where the Car Museum is currently located, and would further enhance the activity along the linear trail as well as provide a flexible venue to host festivals and events
  • A linear trail connection, and an extension to State Street, is located at the far western edge of Wildcat Landing to further reinforce connectivity to adjacent neighborhoods.


The second planning scenario considers removing the two existing buildings at the site, introducing minimal amounts of fill material to bring the area above floodplain, and replacing them with smaller footprint, higher density (multi-story) structures. Similarly, to the previous planning concept, the impervious area at the site will be reduced even further and will, again, help reduce impacts from flooding. Existing impervious area on this site is 66% and pervious area is 34%. This plan reduces impervious area by 26%.



The third planning scenario considers removing the two existing buildings at the site and keeping the entire southern portion of the site as community open space. While this does reduce the amount of developed area, the density of the existing buildings at the northern portions of the site could potentially be increased. Out of all the planning concepts, the impervious area at the site is most reduced with this plan and introduces the most opportunity to address stormwater infiltration with best management practices such as detention ponds and rain gardens. The main concern with this scenario, however, is the long-term maintenance of this green space. Existing impervious area on this site is 66% and pervious area is 34%. This plan reduces impervious area by 30%.


Improvements to Anderson Avenue will also need to be further defined to determine the final development approach, especially with the opportunity to introduce a controlled intersection at Wreath Avenue.

Option A (at left): Provides a trail head location and extends the internal drive of the site into the existing cul-de-sac at State Street. While it maintains the existing residential properties as they currently exist within this neighborhood, this scenario may limit accessibility into the Plaza West/Wildcat Landing.

Option B (at right): Introduces a controlled intersection to extend Wreath into the Plaza West/Wildcat Landing site, but also impacts two existing residential properties in this area.

With this planning study, neither of these two options are being fully endorsed. Rather, they’re proposed as considerations to address as conversations (related to this site and Anderson Avenue) continue to evolve in the coming years.


The following series of renderings all depict how the site might appear if the two larger, existing buildings remain, as laid out in Option A. They also illustrate how new development can hug the Anderson Avenue corridor and include a variation of architectural character that reflects regional materials such as limestone. This rendering illustrates how Wildcat Landing might appear, looking toward the southwest from Seth Child Road and Anderson Avenue.


If the two existing buildings remain, as Concept A implies, an arrival plaza can be established that correlates with the primary entrance into the development and frames viewsheds into community amenities, such as the outdoor amphitheater, at the far southern reaches of the site.


With the removal of much of the existing impervious pavement, an outdoor amphitheater or gathering space might be introduced that can further add to the character of the site and be designed in a way that is resilient to flooding events.



To the east of the Car Museum, an outdoor food and beverage hall might be introduced to provide flexible, protected gathering areas for the community. This facility could be designed in a way that is resilient to flooding, can easily be cleaned following flood events (with roll-up doors and polished concrete floors, for instance) or could be constructed on fill material that would help elevate it above the existing floodplain. Behind this structure, this rendering also illustrates the extension of green space (that are currently occupied by expansive parking areas) which would be removed and returned to a more natural environment– which could also provide areas for stormwater detention.


At the far western portions of Wildcat Landing, a State Street extension could be considered into the site, along with a trail head for the Linear Trail, which would further enhance connectivity for adjacent neighborhoods and the broader community.


As previously mentioned, the third open house culminates the public engagement portion of the Plaza West small areawide plan, and we’re very interested in hearing your feedback. The recording of this presentation will be posted on the project website for viewing by those who were not available to attend in-person. As this study is concluded, we will be documenting community feedback and recommendations which will be presented to the City Commission during their working session on December 14th.


Thank you for your continued interest in participating in this plan, learning more about these recommendations, and providing your feedback. Your time is much-appreciated.

If you have questions or comments, please contact:


Wendy Van Duyne
Chad Bunger

Senior Associate of Community Development, Stantec
Assistant Director of Community Development, City of Manhattan

wendy.vanduyne@stantec.com


bunger@cityofmhk.com



What is the Plaza West Areawide Study?

Project Background: In 2018, the Flint Hills Regional Council (FHRC) received a $600,000 US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfield Assessment grant. This no-match funding can be used to identify, prioritize, assess, and develop plans for brownfield sites located throughout the member communities represented by FHRC.

Location of Flint Hills compared to Manhattan and greater Kansas


A brownfield site is defined by the EPA as any property where the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Examples of these sites include but are not limited to former filling stations, industrial sites, buildings constructed prior to the 1980s, or properties where vehicles or hazardous substances may have been stored. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties:

  • Increases local tax bases
  • Facilitates job growth
  • Utilizes existing infrastructure
  • Takes development pressures off of undeveloped/open land
  • Both improves and protects the environment
Image left: brownfield site with contaminants, right: remediated site as a community asset


The intent of the EPA Brownfield grant is to:

  • Focus on sites with the greatest redevelopment potential
  • Encourage site reuse projects (infill development)
  • Transform underutilized properties into community assets
  • Restore the environment and protect human health
As a member of the Flint Hills Regional Council, Manhattan has an opportunity to gain access to this grant funding. This funding creates an opportunity to explore benefits to residents and property owners including identification of community assets, tracking of market trends, and identification of redevelopment opportunities in the study area west of Seth Child Road and south of Anderson Avenue.


Site Selection: Stantec and Flint Hills Regional Council worked closely with the City of Manhattan, Kansas to identify brownfield sites in the city that may benefit from environmental assessments and land use planning activities. The area referenced as 'Plaza West' was quickly recognized by the City as a priority location due to its visibility, ongoing flooding concerns, and recent interest in further study by the academic and private development communities. (see Previous Plans and Studies of Plaza West for more information)

Image left: Plaza West site in relation to Manhattan, right: layout of the site (buildings on the lower right since demolished)


Site Concerns: Plaza West is a commercial corridor located near the southeast corner of Anderson Avenue and Seth Child Road. The Linear Park Trail, running along Wildcat Creek, and numerous residential neighborhoods also border the study area. Currently, this site has a series of retail strip buildings hosting a variety of small to big-box sized businesses and a few stand-alone businesses. This area is an ideal destination with connections to the neighborhoods west of Seth Child Road and Kansas State University less than two miles east on Anderson Avenue. However, several challenges currently exist within the Plaza West study area that will continue to impact its redevelopment potential. The south end of the site has lower elevations that are susceptible to major, repeated flooding events, including the 2018 flood, that contributed to the demolition of several buildings near the southern portions of the site. Also, a majority of the site is underutilized due to large parking lots dominating the area and infill redevelopment opportunities may exist to further increase activity levels throughout the study area.

Flooding of Wildcat Creek (KCTV5, 2018)


Project Goals: The Plaza West Areawide Study is an exciting opportunity for the City and community to envision feasible development options for the revitalization and reinvestment of this study area. Throughout the course of this process, the following goals will remain the top priorities of this plan:

  • Focus on sites with the greatest redevelopment potential
  • Encourage site reuse projects (infill development)
  • Transform underutilized properties into community assets
  • Restore the environment and protect human health





What's Next?

  • Read about the research and community engagement results below
  • Tell us what you think about the preliminary redevelopment scenario for Plaza West in an Anonymous Survey
  • See Key Dates to know when our outreach activities are happening

Welcome to the Plaza West Areawide Study! Stantec, in partnership with the Flint Hills Regional Council and the City of Manhattan, is embarking on a four-month planning study for an area at the southwest corner of the intersection of Anderson Avenue and Seth Child Road. As this study is underway, we are actively seeking community feedback and we welcome your interest in this project. Follow along to learn more about the site, stay up to date with our process, and get involved today!




A Virtual Open House was held Thursday November 18, 2021


Thank you for your participation!
Below is a recording of the meeting followed by key slides from the presentation.



Click to view a video recording of the meeting:



Key slides from the presentation with descriptions below:

This planning study could be considered a kick-off conversation to a long-term redevelopment process. We acknowledge that this process will take TIME. However, this is also an opportunity to identify the best ways to increase the utilization of this site, while decreasing the impacts of flooding and improving resiliency.

Flooding impacts have fundamentally shaped our redevelopment plan. It was our top concern from the beginning and guided the design. There are a number of pros and cons that could prevent these discussions from moving forward. While market potential and community need are one proponent of moving forward, flooding concerns need to be evaluated and addressed first and foremost.

Flooding: It's important to acknowledge the previous flooding events that have occurred at Plaza West and how the presence of the 1% (100-year) floodplain will impact development patterns on this site. While a significant area of the southern portion of the site is impacted by the 1% (100-year) floodplain, including three existing buildings, a large swath of land is also situated outside of this 1% (100-year) floodplain and is prominently adjacent to the Anderson Avenue corridor. To better address and protect this site from future flooding events, it will be important to concentrate development activity close to Anderson Avenue, decrease the amount of concrete on the site to better absorb stormwater, and construct new buildings that can better withstand the impacts of flooding or are elevated to reduce the likelihood of damages from flooding


For redevelopment to be successful, it’s imperative that recommendations don’t negatively impact other properties throughout the watershed, but also important that development improve the current conditions at Plaza West– both in terms of resilience as well as economic viability.

It’s significant to note that, even beyond the area within the floodplain, there are more than 11 acres of developable land outside of the floodplain that can support reinvestment and revitalization. This is a very large area and there are many ways to address the impacts of flooding events.

It will be important to concentrate redevelopment at the highest portions of the site, outside of the floodplain (along Anderson Avenue) and consider bringing in modest amounts of fill to bring other portions of the site above floodplain elevation. In addition to fill, best management practices (BMPs) such as bioswales, rain gardens and decreasing the amount of surface parking/impervious area, will also help improve resiliency from flooding.

It’s also critically important that this increase in fill at the site, does not negatively impact the surrounding watershed (both upstream and downstream). To better study this issue, our team has completed in-depth flood modeling (which utilizes the most current data available by the City) to study how development at Plaza West could impact the area.


In addition to concentrating development activity at the highest elevations of the site, we’ve overlayed preliminary redevelopment footprints so that we can see which areas will be most prone to flooding and prioritize locations where it would be beneficial to fill in with moderate amounts of earthwork.

It is not recommended that the entire site be filled above floodplain. However, to better understand how this might impact the watershed, we evaluated how a full earthwork fill scenario might affect the area as a ‘worst case’ scenario, to identify any potential red flags, early on in these discussions.


In total, we analyzed two flood models, conducted with varied amounts of fill to bring developable area above floodplain elevations. These scenarios included full fill, intermediate fill, and partial fill, and both flood models with these fill scenarios indicated few flooding impacts downstream or upstream.

In all three instances, even with the ‘worst case’ scenario of full fill to the site to bring it above flood plain, the hydrologic model indicates that stormwater and flooding impacts to the Wildcat Creek watershed would not be significant due, in part, by how stormwater flows throughout this site.

Hydrologic analysis indicates that, while not a levee, the Railroad Embankment of the Linear Trail segregates a lot of the hydrology at Plaza West from the surrounding watershed.


The basin in Plaza West can be loosely thought of like a bucket in a bathtub. Fill within the bucket is unlikely to impact the flow of water down the bathtub drain.

The Plaza West area is isolated within the Wildcat Creek Watershed and retains a lot of stormwater, north of the Railroad Embankment of the linear Trail. It’s like a bucket within a bathtub, if you think of Plaza West like a bucket and the watershed like a bathtub.

Although it is not a levee, the Railroad Embankment of the Linear Trail separates the stormwater flow of Plaza West from the rest of the watershed. The primary instance when floodwaters from the watershed would impact Plaza West (and vice versa) are when the embankment is overtopped.


The flood models studied the hydrology of Plaza West, as well as how it may impact the greater watershed both up stream and down stream. Both flood models, indicated there would be little negative impact. Even with the worst-case fill scenario (with the entire site brought up to an elevation above the 100-year floodplain) a 100-year event would not exceed the banks of the Wildcat Creek, as illustrated by this image.


A full technical analysis of the impacts of a proposed development has not been done yet. These are all conceptual ideas, but anything definitive that gets proposed would need to be analyzed like any development in the City, or in the floodplain specifically.

At a planning level perspective, there have been no red flags present that would suggest continued discussion and analysis of this site would not be worthwhile. It’s in the best interest of the City, property owners and stakeholders, to move forward with identifying potential opportunities to improve the Plaza West area.

Key take-aways from this analysis include:

  • Cluster development on higher ground, along Anderson Avenue, outside of floodplain
  • Decrease the amount of impervious area, such as concrete surface parking lots, throughout the site, remove much of existing pavement to increase permeability for stormwater and improve resiliency for the site
  • Determine feasibility of maintaining existing buildings. Work with property owners to address better resiliency, if they stay. Consider replacing with smaller footprint, higher density buildings, if they’re removed.
  • Continue assessments of flooding impacts at each level of the development process.
  • This will be a long-term conversation, which will require continued analysis and community dialogue. Redevelopment will not happen overnight. However, initial review indicates that redevelopment can occur in a way that minimizes impacts from flooding and is more resilient from future events.

Due to variables in hydrology, no plan can completely guarantee against potential flooding impacts. However, redevelopment improvements can help reduce likelihood of negative impacts AND improve the site for a higher and better use by the community– which is one of the primary objectives of the EPA Brownfields grant.


In addition to looking at existing conditions and previous concepts for the site (including planning concepts from students at Kansas State University) a market analysis was completed to better understand the current market trends and conditions to better support the long-term viability of redevelopment. Among the key highlights from this exercise included opportunities for Retail, Multi-Family Housing and Hospitality.

Retail:

  • Improved Access is an important precondition for new retail, services, restaurants, etc.
  • There may be demand for a character district that emphasizes dining and entertainment
  • This may address an unmet need in the Manhattan region, and leverage the presence of higher income households in the area around Plaza West

Multifamily Housing:

  • Multifamily Housing is a good candidate for the site
  • It should target a medium income rental demographic in comparison to recent housing developments
  • The market for new housing can be strengthened
  • By tying into existing site amenities—multiuse trail and Wildcat Creek
  • By creating a set of retail and entertainment amenities on the site
  • Through capitalizing on the opportunity for excellent landscape design

Hospitality:

  • Hotel development is potentially viable, and could be synergistic with a dining and entertainment-oriented retail district
  • Site enhancement through landscaping and attracting compatible development might increase the attractiveness of the location to a hotelier.


An initial community open house, to help kick off the project, was held at the end of May and provided an opportunity for participants to share their thoughts about the study area and visit with the planning team. Among open opportunities to visit and tour the site, there were also two stations to collect feedback, including a six-word story– based on Ernest Hemingway’s famous writing approach. Among the feedback received from both the six-word story and the site tour included:

Six-Words Story:

  • inspiring/ transformational
  • restaurants, grocery/ retail stores, mixed-used buildings
  • family activities, entertainment, community gathering, and open space

Site Tour:

  • green space, outdoor recreational center
  • retail/restaurants
  • connectivity to more neighborhoods


Based on this information, feedback from the community, and the existing conditions analysis completed by the planning team, a schematic design concept was assembled that began to lay out a general framework and organization for the site. Key aspects included new construction located as close as possible to the Anderson Avenue corridor– with a mix of multi-family housing, commercial and hospitality uses. Two of the existing buildings on the site would remain and all concrete areas at the southern portions of the site would be redesigned into greenspace that would both support community use and activities, as well as help absorb stormwater runoff. All new construction on the site would be designed in a way that is resilient to flooding– with only upper levels designated for housing.

This planning scenario concentrates new, denser, development outside of the floodplain (with smaller footprints and multi-stories), decreases impervious areas, and may improve current drainage on the site by decreasing the impervious area within the floodplain.


Along with a recap of existing conditions, this information was presented to stakeholders at a second community open house in early August. An overview of the feedback provided at the Second Community Open House included:

  • Support for mixed-use concepts
  • Positive feedback for greenspace and reduction of entrances to Anderson
  • General reassurance about intent of development and participants were, overall, supportive of concepts
  • Flooding concerns remain and should be continued to be evaluated at each stage of the re development process
  • Enthusiasm around potential branding and entertainment options:
    • Esports Arena
    • Family Hub
    • Outdoor recreation


As this diagram illustrates, this mixed-use approach would elevate the visibility of development at Plaza West as well as concentrate new construction outside of the floodplain.

The amount of impervious area that currently exists, would also be decreased throughout the site to help address and improve the stormwater challenges that remain.


Planning scenarios have focused on concentrating development outside of the floodplain, as much as possible and have studied the impacts of filling in portions of the site, for new construction, that would bring them above floodplain elevation. Previous planning concepts also considered access on to Anderson Avenue and how that might support additional multifamily housing, west of the Public Works facility. While it’s important to acknowledge the possibilities for multifamily housing in this area, the planning concepts we’re sharing this evening consider how the adjacent residential neighborhoods may remain as they are, and how that might impact access points into the site, from Anderson Avenue.

Because this planning study is looking at high-level development scenarios, we don’t have a definitive direction for how Anderson Avenue will be improved– particularly into/out of the site and at the intersection of Seth Child Avenue. For the time being, we have developed these concepts with the assumption that Seth Child will remain at-grade and all existing KDOT Right-of-Way will be maintained. Access from Anderson into Plaza West will need to be further vetted with the City and Property Owners, particularly regarding an extension of Wreath Avenue, before any redevelopment can move forward.

In addition to thinking about planning scenarios, community feedback also suggested we consider branding opportunities for this site. To-date, this area has been referred to as ‘Plaza West’, however, it has been suggested that ‘Wildcat Landing’ might be a future branding opportunity and we’ve included this new designation with each of our planning scenario.


While the amount of impervious area has been reduced, and development has been concentrated outside of the floodplain (on the highest ground), the existing buildings will remain susceptible to flooding events. Should they be replaced with new construction, that is located on portions of fill that would bring the developed area fully above floodplain?

Three plan concepts have been developed to explore these possibilities.


This first planning scenario considers how the two existing buildings can remain at the site. While this does leave them open to continued impacts from flooding, by concentrating new construction near Anderson (outside of the floodplain) and with higher density, multi-story structures, the impervious area at the site will be reduced, which will also help reduce impacts from flooding. Existing impervious area on this site is 66% and pervious area is 34%. This plan reduces impervious area by 19%.

Key Considerations also include:

  • A Main entrance (and controlled intersection) has been proposed at Waters, with two right-in/right-out access points into Wildcat Plaza to the east and West
  • This Main entrance has been planned to be developed with multi-story, mixed use construction and on-street parking, reminiscent of roadways along Poyntz or in Aggieville
  • Multifamily housing could be developed west of the main entrance, with tuck-under parking and surface lots interspersed with green space and stormwater best management practices (such as rain gardens and native plant materials)
  • Mixed-use commercial developments, including hospitality, restaurant and some retail, could be constructed to the east of the main entrance. There are still many opportunities for how the hospitality development might evolve, including ongoing recommendations from interested stakeholders and the community (including an E Sports Arena)
  • A primary entrance plaza, near the two large existing buildings, provides viewsheds and linkages to outdoor gathering spaces and an amphitheater venue at the southern portion of the site.
  • A food hall/community venue is also introduced southeast of where the Car Museum is currently located, and would further enhance the activity along the linear trail as well as provide a flexible venue to host festivals and events
  • A linear trail connection, and an extension to State Street, is located at the far western edge of Wildcat Landing to further reinforce connectivity to adjacent neighborhoods.


The second planning scenario considers removing the two existing buildings at the site, introducing minimal amounts of fill material to bring the area above floodplain, and replacing them with smaller footprint, higher density (multi-story) structures. Similarly, to the previous planning concept, the impervious area at the site will be reduced even further and will, again, help reduce impacts from flooding. Existing impervious area on this site is 66% and pervious area is 34%. This plan reduces impervious area by 26%.



The third planning scenario considers removing the two existing buildings at the site and keeping the entire southern portion of the site as community open space. While this does reduce the amount of developed area, the density of the existing buildings at the northern portions of the site could potentially be increased. Out of all the planning concepts, the impervious area at the site is most reduced with this plan and introduces the most opportunity to address stormwater infiltration with best management practices such as detention ponds and rain gardens. The main concern with this scenario, however, is the long-term maintenance of this green space. Existing impervious area on this site is 66% and pervious area is 34%. This plan reduces impervious area by 30%.


Improvements to Anderson Avenue will also need to be further defined to determine the final development approach, especially with the opportunity to introduce a controlled intersection at Wreath Avenue.

Option A (at left): Provides a trail head location and extends the internal drive of the site into the existing cul-de-sac at State Street. While it maintains the existing residential properties as they currently exist within this neighborhood, this scenario may limit accessibility into the Plaza West/Wildcat Landing.

Option B (at right): Introduces a controlled intersection to extend Wreath into the Plaza West/Wildcat Landing site, but also impacts two existing residential properties in this area.

With this planning study, neither of these two options are being fully endorsed. Rather, they’re proposed as considerations to address as conversations (related to this site and Anderson Avenue) continue to evolve in the coming years.


The following series of renderings all depict how the site might appear if the two larger, existing buildings remain, as laid out in Option A. They also illustrate how new development can hug the Anderson Avenue corridor and include a variation of architectural character that reflects regional materials such as limestone. This rendering illustrates how Wildcat Landing might appear, looking toward the southwest from Seth Child Road and Anderson Avenue.


If the two existing buildings remain, as Concept A implies, an arrival plaza can be established that correlates with the primary entrance into the development and frames viewsheds into community amenities, such as the outdoor amphitheater, at the far southern reaches of the site.


With the removal of much of the existing impervious pavement, an outdoor amphitheater or gathering space might be introduced that can further add to the character of the site and be designed in a way that is resilient to flooding events.



To the east of the Car Museum, an outdoor food and beverage hall might be introduced to provide flexible, protected gathering areas for the community. This facility could be designed in a way that is resilient to flooding, can easily be cleaned following flood events (with roll-up doors and polished concrete floors, for instance) or could be constructed on fill material that would help elevate it above the existing floodplain. Behind this structure, this rendering also illustrates the extension of green space (that are currently occupied by expansive parking areas) which would be removed and returned to a more natural environment– which could also provide areas for stormwater detention.


At the far western portions of Wildcat Landing, a State Street extension could be considered into the site, along with a trail head for the Linear Trail, which would further enhance connectivity for adjacent neighborhoods and the broader community.


As previously mentioned, the third open house culminates the public engagement portion of the Plaza West small areawide plan, and we’re very interested in hearing your feedback. The recording of this presentation will be posted on the project website for viewing by those who were not available to attend in-person. As this study is concluded, we will be documenting community feedback and recommendations which will be presented to the City Commission during their working session on December 14th.


Thank you for your continued interest in participating in this plan, learning more about these recommendations, and providing your feedback. Your time is much-appreciated.

If you have questions or comments, please contact:


Wendy Van Duyne
Chad Bunger

Senior Associate of Community Development, Stantec
Assistant Director of Community Development, City of Manhattan

wendy.vanduyne@stantec.com


bunger@cityofmhk.com



What is the Plaza West Areawide Study?

Project Background: In 2018, the Flint Hills Regional Council (FHRC) received a $600,000 US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfield Assessment grant. This no-match funding can be used to identify, prioritize, assess, and develop plans for brownfield sites located throughout the member communities represented by FHRC.

Location of Flint Hills compared to Manhattan and greater Kansas


A brownfield site is defined by the EPA as any property where the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Examples of these sites include but are not limited to former filling stations, industrial sites, buildings constructed prior to the 1980s, or properties where vehicles or hazardous substances may have been stored. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties:

  • Increases local tax bases
  • Facilitates job growth
  • Utilizes existing infrastructure
  • Takes development pressures off of undeveloped/open land
  • Both improves and protects the environment
Image left: brownfield site with contaminants, right: remediated site as a community asset


The intent of the EPA Brownfield grant is to:

  • Focus on sites with the greatest redevelopment potential
  • Encourage site reuse projects (infill development)
  • Transform underutilized properties into community assets
  • Restore the environment and protect human health
As a member of the Flint Hills Regional Council, Manhattan has an opportunity to gain access to this grant funding. This funding creates an opportunity to explore benefits to residents and property owners including identification of community assets, tracking of market trends, and identification of redevelopment opportunities in the study area west of Seth Child Road and south of Anderson Avenue.


Site Selection: Stantec and Flint Hills Regional Council worked closely with the City of Manhattan, Kansas to identify brownfield sites in the city that may benefit from environmental assessments and land use planning activities. The area referenced as 'Plaza West' was quickly recognized by the City as a priority location due to its visibility, ongoing flooding concerns, and recent interest in further study by the academic and private development communities. (see Previous Plans and Studies of Plaza West for more information)

Image left: Plaza West site in relation to Manhattan, right: layout of the site (buildings on the lower right since demolished)


Site Concerns: Plaza West is a commercial corridor located near the southeast corner of Anderson Avenue and Seth Child Road. The Linear Park Trail, running along Wildcat Creek, and numerous residential neighborhoods also border the study area. Currently, this site has a series of retail strip buildings hosting a variety of small to big-box sized businesses and a few stand-alone businesses. This area is an ideal destination with connections to the neighborhoods west of Seth Child Road and Kansas State University less than two miles east on Anderson Avenue. However, several challenges currently exist within the Plaza West study area that will continue to impact its redevelopment potential. The south end of the site has lower elevations that are susceptible to major, repeated flooding events, including the 2018 flood, that contributed to the demolition of several buildings near the southern portions of the site. Also, a majority of the site is underutilized due to large parking lots dominating the area and infill redevelopment opportunities may exist to further increase activity levels throughout the study area.

Flooding of Wildcat Creek (KCTV5, 2018)


Project Goals: The Plaza West Areawide Study is an exciting opportunity for the City and community to envision feasible development options for the revitalization and reinvestment of this study area. Throughout the course of this process, the following goals will remain the top priorities of this plan:

  • Focus on sites with the greatest redevelopment potential
  • Encourage site reuse projects (infill development)
  • Transform underutilized properties into community assets
  • Restore the environment and protect human health





What's Next?

  • Read about the research and community engagement results below
  • Tell us what you think about the preliminary redevelopment scenario for Plaza West in an Anonymous Survey
  • See Key Dates to know when our outreach activities are happening
  • Preliminary Findings and Redevelopment Concepts

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    Click on the title "Preliminary Findings and Redevelopment Concepts" to view the full page

    This page provides detailed research and community engagement findings that guide all redevelopment scenarios for Plaza West explored by Stantec. To view the preliminary redevelopment scenario only, scroll to the bottom.


    Research Informing Redevelopment Scenarios for Plaza West

    Existing Site: The Plaza West study area is situated at the southwest corner of the intersection of Seth Child Road and Anderson Avenue. With strong connectivity to regional trails and primary arterial corridors, this site has the potential to transform into a prominent commercial destination– with restaurants, hospitality, mixed-use retail, and some multi-family housing interspersed with green spaces and parks. Initial market analysis indicates that not only would these types of development patterns perform well within this area of the City, but they would also be complementary to other commercial activity within this area. This development approach would further address the need for retail goods and services for residents living on the west side of Manhattan.


    Location of Plaza West and surrounding context



    Community Engagement: To help communicate this study, and solicit feedback from property owners, residents, and the public, an open house was hosted at the site on May 27, 2021. This outdoor event included several stations where participants could learn about the study, share their thoughts, and participate in site tours that explored the opportunities for development. Based on participation from this first event, initial feedback indicated that residents would support a transformational use of this area that was a destination for family activities, a place to gather with friends at restaurants and retail establishments, and was better connected to surrounding neighborhoods.

    One of the stations at this first open house event asked residents to share what they love about Plaza West, what they want more of at Plaza West, and what they’d like to see less of at Plaza West. Many participants indicated they love the businesses that are already located at this site and its convenience for those living in the western neighborhoods of Manhattan. As this site is reimagined, residents would like to see more protection from flooding, more green space and opportunities for family entertainment, and more mixed-use buildings. The site features residents would like to see less of are fewer curb cuts and access points onto Anderson Avenue and less concrete.


    Results from Site Tour and Love, More, Less activities at the first
    Plaza West Open House



    Flooding: It's important to acknowledge the previous flooding events that have occurred at Plaza West and how the presence of the 1% (100-year) floodplain will impact development patterns on this site. While a significant area of the southern portion of the site is impacted by the 1% (100-year) floodplain, including three existing buildings, a large swath of land is also situated outside of this 1% (100-year) floodplain and is prominently adjacent to the Anderson Avenue corridor. To better address and protect this site from future flooding events, it will be important to concentrate development activity close to Anderson Avenue, decrease the amount of concrete on the site to better absorb stormwater, and construct new buildings that can better withstand the impacts of flooding or are elevated to reduce the likelihood of damages from flooding.



    Existing flood impacts in the Plaza West area



    In addition to a broader site analysis of flooding impacts, the planning team analyzed flood impacts of hypothetical development scenarios. The basic scenarios were incorporated into two different computer models commonly used to study and map flooding with the intent of showing if adding fill to the site to an elevation that protects existing or new buildings from flooding would negatively impact adjacent properties along Wildcat Creek. The following series of images depict the 3 different hypothetical development scenarios: partial earthwork fill (with less than half the site filled in), intermediate earthwork fill (with more than half the site filled in), and a full earthwork fill of the site. In all scenarios, the amount of fill would raise the ground so that it would be one foot above the 1% annual chance (100-year) flood elevation. For the partial earthwork scenario, this would equal 1 foot of fill at the northern portion of the site to approximately 6 feet at the southern end. The intermediate earthwork scenario represents 1 to 7 feet of fill to more than half of the site. The full earthwork scenario added 1 to 8 feet of fill to the entire site.

    The FEMA 1D HEC-RAS model is the model used to develop FEMA’s standard flood map. This computer model was used to determine how the different hypothetical scenarios would impact the height or elevation of the floodwaters for a 1% annual chance (100-year) flood event and the boundaries of the floodwaters. This model is a good representation of how the three scenarios may increase the depth of the floodwater or cause the flooded area to be larger.


    FEMA 1D HEC-RAS Model

    Image Left: partial earthwork fill, Middle: intermediate earthwork fill,
    Right: full earthwork fill of the site
    *Earthwork fill amount outlined in black



    The other computer model used to study what impacts filling the site would have on the area is the 2D HEC-RAS flood model that Manhattan has recently developed for the Wildcat Creek Watershed. The 2D flood model shows the depth, velocities, and area of the floodwater, but also allows the consultant team to see how water flows and would inundate an area. This model is useful to visually represent how the flooding occurs and can also be used to see if the velocities of the floodwaters are increased, which can lead to being a more dangerous flood or cause erosion.


    Manhattan 2D HEC-RAS Model

    Image Left: partial earthwork fill, Middle: intermediate earthwork fill,
    Right: full earthwork fill of the site
    *Earthwork fill amount outlined in black


    Both computer models indicate that the Linear Trail and Seth Child Road embankments keep much of the flooding from Wildcat Creek outside of the Plaza West site. The exception would be extreme flood events, like the one that occurred in 2018, which was larger than a 1% annual chance flood (100-year) event. None of the 3 fill scenarios showed a negative impact on flooding, either within the project area or adjacent to the project area. This is generally because raised Linear Trail separates the creek from the site, preventing any water that falls on the site to enter Wildcat Creek during a flood. This, in turn, means that the site does not impact the flood situation, except for extreme floods that would overtop the raised trail.

    Engineers also assessed impacts of the fill scenarios if the raised Linear Trail did not impede overbank flooding from Wildcat Creek from reaching the project area. In this situation, the first 2 scenarios (partial earthwork fill and intermediate earthwork fill) showed no negative impacts on the flood elevations. The third scenario, full earthwork fill of the project area, showed less than a 0.5-foot rise of the flood elevation in the project area.


    Designing for Resiliency: While the site can be organized in a way to avoid areas of flooding, new construction can also be designed in a way to be more resilient to flooding events. The following examples are case studies (from Stantec projects) where resiliency concerns have been addressed.



    Located in the Boston Harbor, the Eddy is a mixed-use residential development comprised of 259 residential units with amenities and retail development on the lower floors. The development of permanent structures is focused outside of the FEMA floodplain, with no habitable spaces located on any lower levels. This scenario accommodates practical use of the space during dry events but also allows for the quick evacuation of supplies and equipment during flood events. Thinking beyond the buildings themselves, all plans and site improvements were also designed to quickly rebound from flooding and were considered for their long-term durability.




    The Broward County Convention Center is a large-scale public use space located near the central Florida coast. The site was developed with integrated green infrastructure to support quick dewatering and absorption of floodwaters. Furthermore, all critical services (such as primary gathering spaces and building mechanical and backup generation systems) were located on elevated stories of the building where they would be out of direct impact from any flooding event.




    Also located along the Florida coast, the Esplanade Marco is another example of a mixed-use development located within a high-risk flood zone. While commercial spaces were allowed at grade on an elevated first floor, all residential units were located on the second floor and higher to help protect from natural flooding events.




    Located in Houston, Texas, Rice Village is an example of a mixed-use development that places heavy emphasis on community gathering spaces that are environmentally sustainable and authentic to the character of the community. Throughout this development, stormwater management was integrated at micro levels to include elements such as impervious surfaces and bioretention areas that can quickly absorb stormwater and minimize the imminent impacts of flooding events.


    Developable Area: There are many ways to address the flooding impacts at this site and it’s important to note that, even beyond the area within the floodplain, there are more than 11 acres of developable land outside of the floodplain that can support reinvestment and revitalization.


    Developable land at Plaza West



    In fact, the Plaza West area has been studied previously and has generated significant interest from developers, designers, and students, alike. In 2019, the Landscape Architecture program at Kansas State assembled several different development scenarios for a project branded as “Higher Ground”. These design studies envisioned four different options for how the Plaza West could be redeveloped in a way that is resilient to flooding and supports increased use of this site. These studies serve as a great opportunity to evaluate drastic changes to this area and each scenario takes a different approach to branding and programming the area. While they each have their own merits, it’s important for current efforts to root development recommendations in the current market context.

    2019 K-State Landscape Architecture "Higher Ground" studies



    Market Analysis: Early on in this planning effort, Stantec completed a market analysis to identify the key market opportunities that could support the redevelopment of the Plaza West area. Key findings concluded that the west side of Manhattan is currently underserved for primary commercial needs and this area could support a mixed-use of moderate retail, restaurants, and entertainment areas which could also be supported by multi-family residential units and hotel/hospitality developments.


    Preliminary Redevelopment Scenario

    Based on this information, feedback from the community, and the existing conditions analysis completed by the planning team, a schematic design concept has been assembled that begins to lay out a general framework and organization for the site. Key aspects include new construction located as close as possible to the Anderson Avenue corridor– with a mix of multi-family housing, commercial and hospitality uses. Two of the existing buildings on the site would remain and all concrete areas at the southern portions of the site would be redesigned into green space that would both support community use and activities, as well as help alleviate flooding. All new construction on the site would be designed in a way that is resilient to flooding– with upper levels designated only for housing.




    As this next diagram illustrates, this mixed-use approach would elevate the visibility of development at Plaza West as well as concentrate on new construction outside of the floodplain.


    Finally, as green space areas are planned and designed throughout the site, it will be important to consider natural systems and the role these areas play to help alleviate flooding. All of these examples portray real-world examples of how green space has supported resiliency efforts in similar developments, all across the world.




Page last updated: 23 November 2021, 06:56