WICHITA — In another sign of recovery – both for Wichita and downtown in particular – the Garvey Center is going to build new apartments.
“We’re going to be constructing 36 new apartment units at the corner of First and Waco,” says Garvey Center manager Larry Weber.
The city owns half the parking lot that’s at the southeast corner, and the Garvey Center owns the other half.
Weber expects the project will take about a year to build after the city approves selling its land.
“The thing that’s significant about it is it’s adding new residential into our downtown,” says Jeff Fluhr, president of the Wichita Downtown Development Corp.
Fluhr says Builders Inc., which owns the Garvey Center, and its CEO, Mike Garvey, were some of the first to step up to help pay for a $100,000 study of downtown that showed that more residential is needed. Fluhr says more living areas in turn help meet retail and restaurant needs, which also were part of the plan.
City Council member Janet Miller agrees that the new apartments are likely to help with the ripple effect.
“That brings more services, more retail, more entertainment options.” All of that may eventually lead to a full-scale grocery store for the city’s core, she says, “which is what everybody wants.”
The Garvey Center already has 155 apartments at 250 Douglas Place.
“We’re 100 percent (occupied) on those, and the demand is such that more are needed,” Weber says.
Parking will be within the Garvey Center’s garage.
While other apartments and condos have become available downtown in recent years, none has been built from the ground up.
“When you think about it, this is the first new apartments in the core in I don’t know how long,” Weber says.
Fluhr says a lot of properties have been redeveloped but that this is different.
“It’s certainly been an extended period of time since we’ve seen any new apartment development, especially stand-alone,” he says.
Fluhr says development on two empty lots is “tremendous for First and Waco.”
Weber says downtown’s resurgence is exciting.
“Just the amount of growth, the demand, seeing this and many other projects unfolding.”
Miller likes that there’s more private investment happening. She says for anyone who doesn’t think a lot is going on downtown, “They clearly haven’t been down there in a while.”
Fluhr says the Garvey Center’s addition will be another success.
“I have no doubt that before they’re done with this, they’re probably going to be 100 percent occupied.”