Alley Turned Gallery in Downtown Wichita
Downtown Wichita has gone through a renaissance over the last several years. It’s growing faster than ever and becoming a much more welcoming and thriving community. Many new businesses and housing additions have contributed to this growth, as well as unique offerings such as the food trucks at the Pop-Up Park and the new Gallery Alley.
The Gallery Alley connects popular downtown spots, such as Old Town and the Pop-Up Park, in order to form a more cohesive and walkable downtown experience for Wichitans.
Filling in The Gap
"If you think of Douglas street as kind of our main spine, it connects Old Town all the way down to the river and Delano, that’s what we’re trying to connect,” said Jason Gregory, Executive Vice President of The Wichita Downtown Development Corporation.
“What we recognized with ‘Project Downtown’ is that there were a lot of gaps [between buildings], surface parking lots and vacant buildings,” Gregory said. “Things that you as a pedestrian really wouldn’t want to walk past.”
Alex Pemberton and the folks at Wichita Downtown Development had an idea to turn one gap into something else. [Alex said] “How do we convert that?” Gregory recalled. “Because we’ve always known that the alley was a safety issue. It’s a blind spot when you come out. You literally can’t see past the buildings until your car is almost in traffic. And it’s also only about 15 feet wide so you can’t meet another car without one of you having to back out of it. So then if it’s unsafe, what should we do with it? Alex had this idea to make it a pedestrian friendly zone.”
Meet the Gallery Alley
The main focuses of the project included: adding art, adequate lighting, comfortable seating, and basically taking a dark, unsafe space and making it more inviting. The alleyway also now provides daily outdoor seating for nearby businesses and residents who previously had none.
The most notable uses, however, occur at the end of each month. On Final Friday, the space is turned into an art gallery, with a new featured artist every month. The very next day, the space transforms again and a giant projector screen is brought in to show an outdoor movie. Anyone can go online to vote for the next movie to be shown and purchase tickets. The movie is free to the public but there is a limited number of seats so reserve your spot in advance! The Gallery Alley is also used as a space for outdoor concerts at any time.