WICHITA — What started as a real estate search for a law office has led Abdul Arif to become a new investor in downtown along with several of his friends and business associates.
The members of the group, who operate under the name Dragon Estate, are Asian immigrants.
“This is our home,” Arif says of how they now view Wichita. “This is where we believe in.”
“This group of guys (is) who I normally hang out with,” Arif says. “They’re always looking to do something.”
Boeing has told Le he has to move to Seattle. He doesn’t want to, though, so that’s part of the group’s motivation.
“They’re looking for investments and things to keep him here,” Arif says.
So far, they’re investing in downtown one floor at a time.
“Someone told us there’s a good deal at Sutton Place,” Arif says of the building at Market and William.
Real Development owns several floors there. Two floors that others own are in foreclosure.
So far, Arif and his associates have purchased the first floor of Sutton Place.
Arif says he’s in negotiations to buy the foreclosed floors as well.
Once the group has more floors, its plan is to develop residential condos there.
That’s also where Arif will move his Arif & Haeri law office.
Arif says the first floor of Sutton Place will remain office space. He’s also in negotiations for a new restaurant to move into the former Daily Grind space on that floor.
“I’m supposed to sign a lease fairly quickly.”
All About Business, a marketing and consulting firm, also is moving its office there.
There are still two office spaces left to lease.
Arif says immediate plans at Sutton Place include facade improvement and the addition of green canopies to match the ones at the O’Rourke Title building next door where Cafe Bel Ami is. There will be some new paint as well.
“It just need a fresh coat of paint, and it’s a beautiful building,” Arif says.
Craig Simon of Landmark Commercial Real Estate handled the Sutton Place deal along with Dragon Estate’s purchase of the fourth floor of Broadway Plaza at Broadway and Douglas. That’s another property where Real Development owns floors as well.
“It was just a good deal to buy,” Arif says.
If more floors become available, the group is interested in those as well. Arif especially likes the extensive remodeling that’s already happened at the building.
The fourth floor is about 50 percent occupied. Arif says Dragon Estate plans to price the Broadway Plaza property a little under market to attract tenants quickly.
Arif says he appreciates all the new activity in downtown, especially with people such as Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey purchasing older buildings to redevelop them. Arif doesn’t put his group in the same category, though.
“We’re not in any way, shape or form developers,” he says. “We don’t have any grand plans to call ourselves developers.”
Arif says he doesn’t like that label, either.
“We’re just local guys with ties and businesses,” he says.
They’re happy to be part of downtown’s rebirth, though.
“We’ve received some tremendously good deals in downtown,” Arif says. “It’s like a hidden treasure.”