May 28, 2023 Supporting Manhattan-area entrepreneurs, businesses, events

Aggieville 2.0: This is Possible

This Content is Sponsored by Anderson Knight Architects.

Aggieville is an amazing, high-energy community asset thanks to many people who have worked tirelessly to get us to this point. But we can’t stop now. We must imagine how Aggieville could serve as a model for mixed-use entertainment districts going forward.

It isn’t going to be easy, but it is necessary and it is possible. 

Imagine a flexible space where, on a pleasant day, people might meet up for a coffee date before work, and where an employee from a nearby coworking space might wander, tablet in hand, for an outdoor hot-desk served by district-wide WiFi, and where a local musician might play to a crowd of fans who have purchased food and drinks from nearby businesses. Imagine a space to host a travelling art show one week and a dance party one evening and a poetry slam another. There’s no limit to the creativity that this space will host, if we would only create it. 

This destination district needs spatial definition. In tomorrow’s Aggieville, a large canopy might provide shade on a hot summer day, and shelter from the rain or snow.  String lighting will tie the entire district together, providing wonder on summer nights. For holidays, the lights turn red and green or red white and blue or orange and yellow for the annual Aggieville Trick or Treat. On either side of the canopy, you’ll find rooftop bars full of visitors watching the energy below, and rooftop dining catering to a more foodie crowd, and a couple of rooftop apartments that are always in high demand. Density has energized this district. 

On Moro, they’ve traded parking for people. Most businesses can’t imagine operating without the patrons who meander from shop to shop between the planters and under the cooling canopy of trees.  There’s drop-offs on either side of the district where patrons exit public transportation and rideshare vehicles. Out of town guests simply park in a parking garage nearby and bicyclists hang their bikes near the drop-off. Nobody seems to mind, nor are they in a hurry to leave because Aggieville is a place where you can eat, sleep, play, work and live. 

Imagine the Aggieville of tomorrow. It is possible. We must only create it.

  • Why are we focused on a drinking establishment area for students and not more focused on a shopping center for the residents of MHK? Aggieville has turned into a hot mess in the last years. Restaurants do not stay open for more than a few years, the restaurants & bars are always a mess, and you can’t even take your children there to enjoy the few of the good restaurants that are even still there. Example : I was trying to enjoy the parade with my children for ST. Patricks day and we were playing Jenga (a game my children love) at the Yard Bar and my daughter asked me what a very explicit word meant. The graffiti that lines the walls, tables, games is not something I want my children exposed to.

    • You complain that there are too many establishments focused on drinking but you were the one at one? Also, Yard Bar, or any other bar ever, is usually not for children. Bar and grills, sure. Maybe try Kites, Tanners, So Long Saloon (one of the best and cleanest restaurants I have ever been to), Taco Lucha or any of the other establishments in Aggieville or elsewhere in MHK that are not strictly bars.

      Additionally, focus on shopping centers can be good, but how often do most people go to the MHK mall? Sometimes free market economy shows little reason to improve a mall that people do not go to in the first place. If a bar district gets the most revenue in a city, then that is probably a good area to improve.

    • Aggieville used to be much more than what it is, but the district has long been ignored by the local government and is in need of some love. I deal with K-State alumni and it’s Aggieville they want to visit when returning to Manhattan, but the ongoing parking issues in the district along with perception of over policing have driven people elsewhere. What these designs leave out are garages at each end of the district, the first step of making Moro a walking district.

      Now let’s be clear, Aggieville isn’t seeking a handout. Aside from generating sales tax, etc., Manhattan generates money from a “special alcohol tax” that approaches $2 million. (Last figures I found at quick glance were $1.5 million in 2015.) Much of that revenue is generated in Aggieville.

      Also, most of the buildings in Aggieville and the businesses that occupy those businesses are locally owned. Profits stay in the local community as opposed to corporate-owned profits that go elsewhere.

    • 1. Aggieville’s crowd (a.k.a. revenue) is an overwhelming MAJORITY of college students, you live in a college town. If you want a Main Street that is calm for families, try a small town without a college, say Beloit, Clay Center, etc — or try Poyntz.

      If you cater the entire town to families and push out college students, the city revenues will dwindle so fast – and these restaurants and shops will close 10X faster. Think of where the majority of revenues come from – families coming to K-State athletics – hotels, gas, food, etc. Students renting properties, eating at restaurants, paying sales tax on every purchase, rental owners paying property tax. These all rely on students.

      2. Shopping stores have done far worse than restaurants. As John says, take the mall for a perfect example. If you want a shopping center without college students – visit the Town Center Mall or the boutiques on Poyntz.

  • Wow! An Aggieville upgrade would be seriously awesome!
    However, I think MHK should consider water-side development and continued trail building a higher priority. If you think about all of the top cities and towns in the U.S. that have access to waterways, most of them have (or are constructing) access to them and developments nearby. Cities don’t grow successfully without offering more locations/options for shopping, hanging out, and recreation. Additionally, residents in a city that has access to its waterways are typically better informed on topics like water conservation and flow since the water is evident and obvious. Considering the poor management of water flows in the MHK region to date, I would say public awareness and education growing over time would be very helpful.

    Aggieville definitely needs an upgrade, but I just wanted to leave a comment on this article to grow awareness on the subject of waterfront development.
    This is in no way objecting to MHK Business News (or the opinion that Aggieville should be leveled up), because they are a great bunch and clearly aware of and concerned for conservation and waterfront development given their coverage of the rivers and trails in an article several months ago.

  • Love it. For any really progressive development of Aggieville to be successful, I do believe the environs adjacent to Moro Street need attention too. The block of Laramie Street between 11th and 12th needs some work to add to the attraction of Aggieville as a whole..

  • I love this design but wonder where the parking is going to be. It is difficult enough to find parking to take the kids to Varsity Donuts or for Ice Cream or Yoga or etc..

    • The city is already developing a parking garage for Aggieville that will be located right next to Rally House (Varney’s). The surface parking there will transform into almost 500 new parking stalls.

  • Awesome vision! Creating a fun, pedestrian friendly bar and entertainment district within Aggieville would be a huge step in the right direction for Manhattan. Along with the other developments happening within town, designs like these are the reason why Manhattan is continuing to grow as a local and regional destination spot. The mixed-use developments and parking garage solutions outlined in the Aggieville Community Vision will help accomplish this reality for a more energized Moro Street. This has the potential to be a powerful, revenue generating district in Manhattan and would look great with string lights, canopies and public seating along the pedestrian paver-path.

  • This will kill the businesses that depend on the day to day customers. Without direct access and close parking (and a parking garage 3 blocks away is not close), many of the businesses won’t survive. There are many business owners that I know who have felt their opinions and well being are not being considered. Before throwing this out there to boost your profits as architects, etc. It should be brought to ALL business owners in aggieville. This district does not need any more encouragement to become a rowdy alcohol fueled blight on our city. This is obviously being done to do that.

  • Being a local Aggieville business owner I want it to be clear. If you close Moro you will put me out of business. This would hurt many businesses. I am already losing the battle to the connivence driven culture that prefers a drive thru for coffee. If you close the street you will put many of us out of business so consider that or consider talking so business owners before proposing a “hip” new idea.

    • Or attract more business since the place looks like a dump. More people like to be out moving around and not fighting trying to find parking. Past 5 years I rarely visited Aggiville since it was unattractive and hated the main street parking.

  • I believe we have enough establishments already available for the students that I don’t believe more drinking establishments is the answer. I’m 30 yes I can here for school early on but soon realized that it’s too expensive and don’t want to attend school for a career I’d wind up unhappy in. Ok to my point, I’m now 30 and I have an infant I’d like to raise my son here but the opportunities of activities are and will be limited as there’s not any quality establishments for my soon to be toddler etc. There’s no sky zone or real mini theme parks or interactive parent child establishments. Widgets is mediocre and somewhat disappointing especially for the price and time allowed and activities provided. Just believe we need to focus more on what families can do together. School is what the students should focus on with some play and athletics is an area they can play in and be interactive in. So much money was went into that complex and school. Enjoy it. Family and children is our main focus. College students don’t need a whole ville or block and half focused on their wants and needs and happiness. Family and marriage first. Sincerely just another Manhattan gal or little Apple gal 🙂

    • There’s a reason for that – you live in a town of ~50,000 people. If you want Sky Zone/Theme Parks – try moving to a city large enough that there is a large enough population to support it. Or since that’s something you’d do AT MOST once a week, even if it was located in Manhattan, take a quick 1 hour drive to Topeka once a week where there’s more than twice the population – making it feasible to open a Sky Zone.

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