Southeast corner of Central and Oliver ready for development, including a restaurant

WICHITA — It’s been a long time coming, but developer Christian Ablah has acquired an entire city block on the south side of Central near Oliver and is preparing the property for development.

“I’m just basically preparing this for future development,” says Ablah, a broker with his family’s Classic Real Estate.

“I’m just trying to clean up the area,” he says. “The project’s taken a lot longer than I thought it ever would.”

Ablah is close to a deal with a restaurant that would go in the former Dillons store on the southeast corner of the intersection.

There’s talk that it could be a certain Mexican restaurant looking to expand.

“I can’t do the guessing game, but I can tell you it is a sit-down restaurant,” Ablah says.

Part of his demolition of nearby duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes is to make room for parking for the restaurant.

“All the demolition will be complete in a couple of weeks,” Ablah says.

He says any new development will complement what Nathan Toubia is doing with his Bocconcini Italian Eatery next to the former Dillons.

Ablah hopes to close on the restaurant deal in a couple of weeks, but he’s working on other leases as well.

“There’s a lot of demand right now for office — large office space — as well as retail,” Ablah says.

He and some partners also own property on the north side of the street.

“We’re trying to get all that figured out,” Ablah says of development plans.

Ablah says College Hill should be a big draw for businesses due to its strong demographics and density of people.

“It’s a great neighborhood.”

He’d like to add to it.

Ablah admires nearby businesses such as Bella Luna Cafe, Il Vicino and Mike’s Wine Dive.

“I don’t want a check-cashing place or a dollar store, and that’s what I’ve been fighting,” he says.

“I want to be able to have complements to a great neighborhood.”