A good first step

If there’s been a constant in the three-plus years I’ve covered real estate for the Eagle, it’s been WaterWalk and the steady drumbeat of citizen criticism of a largely inactive project.

Those critics, who largely are justified because as taxpayers they’re equity partners, have reason to be heartened by the aggressive first steps announced by the new man in charge on the east bank, veteran Wichita entrepreneur Jack DeBoer.

A very sage developer told me years ago that there are two kinds of Wichitans: The people unafraid to act, and the people paralyzed by fear, more intent on pointing fingers.

Make no mistake about it: DeBoer falls into the first category, and his decision to pursue commercial traffic at WaterWalk is a decision playing very well, even with some of the project’s harshest critics in the local development industry.

DeBoer is a unique guy: A fountain of ideas, and a man who’s willing to crank out and try a dozen of them, secure in the knowledge that one or two are going to succeed.

Add to that his decision to retain Marlin Penner, the president and managing broker of NAI John T. Arnold Associates, to market the development’s commercial property. When you cover real estate, you learn quickly – and often by the hard way – whose word is gold and whose word isn’t worth the air it occupies. I’ve known Penner for 20 years, and he most assuredly falls into the former category.

I’m not here to tell you that DeBoer will succeed. I doubt that even Jack would be that presumptuous.

But I am here to tell you that his decision to shift focus to market-driven traffic down at the WaterWalk is the development’s best chance for success.

It’s time for the finger-pointing to stop. What went wrong at WaterWalk has been rehashed enough. Let’s sit back and watch a veteran entrepreneur at work.