Susan and David Cohrs know a little bit about change. Last year, the Cohrs exchanged 20 acres for a WaterWalk condo in Downtown Wichita with a 300-square foot balcony. “We really did a 180,” she says of their decision to embrace urban life after 20 years in the country. “And we love it – even more than we thought we would.”
After David underwent multiple hip surgeries, the Cohrs wanted to find something easier to maintain. “For us, we loved the farm so much it was kind of all or nothing. We weren’t going to be able to move into suburbia and make that work so we wanted something completely different,” Susan relates. After researching their options they landed at WaterWalk.
Convenient living - “We looked at everything available in Wichita and WaterWalk is close enough downtown, without having to being in the middle of it,” she says, explaining that she and her husband have fallen in love with the lifestyle afforded by living in central Wichita. “We jump on the Q Line in front of our building and take it to Oldtown and go out for drinks or dinner or a movie. In nice weather, it’s just under a mile for us to get to Mort’s (Cigar Bar),” she says, adding that they can easily walk to shows at Century II and other downtown venues as well. “It’s all right there.”
Not to mention the nights they stay in. “There are fireworks over the baseball stadium at home games on Friday nights so we’ll sit on the balcony and watch those,” Susan enthuses. “It’s just an easy way to live,” she says.
Like the Cohrs, Dan and Gayle Ast have discovered that in downsizing from a house to a condo, they have “upsized” their lives with easy access to downtown activities and entertainment, while eliminating property maintenance and reducing their work commutes. “It was probably driven as much by our son’s idea, who also lives downtown in Douglas Place,” Dan says. “He’s the one that got our interest in a different way to live.
“There is always something going on, always something fun to do – STORY BY Amy Bird WaterWalk residents enjoy proximity to Downtown Wichita URBAN ADVANTAGES 103 splurgemag.com | December 2012 from races, to car shows, to the Riverfest, evening concerts on the grounds,” Dan continues. “You’ll never run out of things to do and you’re constantly exposed to it.”
As an added benefit, it takes Dan less than five minutes to get to work. Susan, however, has even Dan beat – she works at Go Wichita, which is one of 10 businesses based in the WaterWalk complex.
Functional living - Although both the Cohrs and Asts have grown children and grandchildren, they say they have been surprised by how easy it is for them to entertain family and other guests with access to a fitness facility and the rooftop owner’s lounge, which can be reserved. Their proximity to downtown activities is another draw for visiting company.
“When all the kids are around, it’s busy, but it doesn’t seem near as crowded as I thought it might,” Susan says. And if space gets too tight, WaterWalk condo owners are given a special rate at the Marriott Fairfield Inn and Suites. “That’s a real nice bonus,” Susan says. “There are solutions to the problems. 90 percent of the time it’s just Dave and I and it’s perfect for us – 10 percent of the year we’ll have some of the kids home and things going but that has worked a lot easier than we thought because of the functional design of the space.”
Teresa Winfield, another WaterWalk resident, also lauds the functionality, pointing out that each unit has a private garage and basement storage. “This is all the space I use – there is no dead space,” she says, comparing it to her previous home. “And with the fantastic view, I couldn’t be more pleased.”
Although Teresa admits that downtown living isn’t for everyone, she is quick to dispel any arguments that it lacks convenience. “You can jump right on to Kellogg and get everywhere within minutes,” she says, “Some people ask me, ‘Where is your grocery store?’ but these are the same people who live in the suburbs and have to drive to their grocery store as well.”
Teresa says she originally picked WaterWalk because she was looking for something that was maintenance free and centrally located. However, she says she has grown to love the urban atmosphere and the cultural diversity among the residents, who range from young professionals to retirees.
Vanessa Johnson, WaterWalk Property Manager, says it is precisely this dynamic that WaterWalk envisioned for its residents and is a key reason for the monthly owner socials. “We have an interesting mix of residents – there is a real sense of community,” she says of the mixed use development that features residential and commercial space, along with a hotel. “We’re unique. There are a lot of places to live downtown, but for us, we offer a lifestyle.”
For pictures of events and WaterWalk Place view Splurge Magazine.