Plaza West Area Study
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.
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.
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)
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)
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: