Developers Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey rename Victoria Park Apartments the Renfro and buy Newton property

WICHITA — Developers Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey, in collaboration with Farha Construction, have started demolition work in preparation for restoring the former Victoria Park Apartments.

They’re renaming the 1908 building the Renfro after a hotel that used to be there. A faded “Renfro Hotel” is still visible on the east side of the building at 612 E. Douglas.

“I just said, ‘How about the Renfro? That’s kind of cool,’” Ted Farha says of renaming the building.

They’re planning 20 apartments – including five two-story spaces that will double as living and office space – and two retail or office spaces along Douglas.

Ramsey says the project will be a historic renovation.

“We’re going to get it on the national historic register,” he says. “It ensures the longevity of the building. It also opens up the opportunity to use … national tax credits if we choose to use them.”

Farha expects renovation to be complete in five or six months.

Eyster and Ramsey have purchased another historic property in Newton.

“We’re converting a medical building into some apartments there as well,” Farha says.

Like the Renfro, Ramsey plans to get the 17,000-square-foot building at 201 S. Pine in Newton on the historic register. It was building in the early 1950s.

There will be 15 apartment units, a third of which will be two stories.

“There’s a real need for market-rate housing in Newton,” Ramsey says. “They had a huge increase of jobs up there.”

He says the apartments will “be engineered from an energy-efficient standpoint.”

Ramsey says he and Eyster, who are redeveloping numerous buildings in downtown Wichita, are open to acquiring more property.

“Sure, if the opportunity comes around.”