WICHITA — Great Plains Ventures president Susayn Brandes likes to joke that her need for a soda and a tank of gas is spurring a new 60-acre development at K-96 and Oliver.
“I really just wanted a QuikTrip on Oliver so I could get a Diet Coke and some gas,” she says.
What she’s actually getting is a whole lot more.
Brandes and her brother, Greats Plains Ventures vice president of development Marque Peer, and developer Jason Van Sickle and his J. Van Sickle & Co. are partnering for a multiuse development on the northeast corner of the intersection that will include apartments, a hotel, office and retail. They first announced the project a year ago but now are about to break ground.
Great Plains Ventures is the holding company for three manufacturing firms, two of which are at Ventures Business Park on the northeast corner of K-96 and Oliver.
Brandes and Peer’s father, the late Charlie Peer, purchased what was then an 80-acre property more than three decades ago to give his company room to grow. Over the years, the company sold off some lots but decided against selling more.
“It just seemed to me that we wanted to be in more control of how this developed out,” Brandes says.
She met Van Sickle at a board meeting and talked to him about doing a study of the best uses for the property.
Van Sickle then presented her with a plan that started with apartments.
“Initially, I was kind of like, ‘Really?’” Brandes says. Then she says “it really started making sense to me.”
Construction is set to start Sept. 3 with an upscale 208-unit apartment complex.
“We wanted to create more 24-hour population density out there,” Van Sickle says.
He says the first goal is to create some of the nicest apartments in Wichita, with granite countertops, hardwood floors and tile, in-unit laundry rooms, large decks with storage and a pet-washing facility.
“We wanted to make it very pet friendly,” Van Sickle says.
The property backs up to a lake and a walking path.
“We’ve really hit a home run with that,” Van Sickle says.
His next goal is to offer what he calls aggressive pricing to attract residents, who would then attract other development.
“We basically eliminated the cost of designing and creating this project,” Van Sickle says.
“In this case, we’re able to build … a $20 million project with great amenities and a beautiful product, and we’re basically able to do it for 75 percent of that,” he says.
Van Sickle says the partners are willing to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains.
“That’s been a great success.”
Brandes says Van Sickle brought together a good group.
“For us to develop this park at the pace we’d like to develop it at, we need to have partnerships in whatever form,” she says. “It frees up cash so we can do projects more quickly.”
Following the apartments, which Van Sickle says will take about a year to build, he expects a nightly hotel (as opposed to an extended-stay hotel) to be next on the list.
“That’s probably our next thing that we’ll look at, but we’re really trying to avoid an artificial timeline,” he says.
At some point, Brandes says she hopes to get her QuikTrip. If she and her partners can’t lure the chain, though, Brandes says there are other options for gas stations.
“I may just have to go into competition.”