KU, WSU ready to start construction early next year on $300M medical campus in downtown Wichita
Construction on a $300 million medical campus in downtown Wichita should start in early 2024, KU and Wichita State said Tuesday following a vote by the Wichita City Council to approve the project’s location.
The joint facility will provide a new home for the Wichita branch of the University of Kansas’ School of Medicine, while also housing WSU programs for nursing and other health care professions.
Wichita council members on Tuesday agreed to sell or lease two tracts of land for use by the project. The 471,000-square-foot facility is slated for 214 S. Topeka in downtown Wichita. The site currently houses the Wichita Transit Center — which is being relocated — and a large parking lot. The property is generally catty-corner from the Intrust Bank Arena in downtown Wichita.
Leaders of both schools said they’ve raised $205 million of the estimated $300 million needed for the project. Construction on the project, which has been dubbed the Wichita Biomedical Campus, is expected to begin in early 2024 and last into 2026.
In addition to the school of medicine branch — which will continue to have its main campus in Kansas City, Kan. — the center will house a branch of KU’s School of Pharmacy, WSU’s College of Health Professions, and WSU Tech’s Health Professions program.
The universities are estimating the center will house about 3,000 students and 200 faculty members.
A KU leader said he hopes the project becomes a new model for how universities in Kansas can work together on projects, and he said students would benefit from having multiple health care professions all learning in the same location.
“This new facility, along with the combined strengths of the KU and Wichita State University professional health programs, means that future students will benefit from the latest technologies and teaching modalities,” said Dr. Robert D. Simari, executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center. “And as students from multiple health programs learn to interact with each other, it improves the effectiveness of interprofessional medical teams and, ultimately, improves the health of the patient.”
Wichita State President Rick Muma said the project also will be one of the largest investments ever in downtown Wichita, and is expected to attract more health care companies to the area.
“Our commitment to downtown is no accident,” Muma said. “If you look at other health science centers in the country, they are almost always located downtown. The central location for the biomedical campus will create a health care corridor that will strengthen collaboration and support interprofessional health care learning, partnerships and research. It will benefit our entire community.”