Indian Hills Shopping Center to expand

WICHITA — Wichita may continue to grow east and west, but Larry Burke thinks his Indian Hills Shopping Center is a perfectly situated central retail center.

“As the community has spread east and west, there’s … a vacuum here of underserved neighborhoods,” says Burke, who used to own the Copper Oven Cafe & Bakery at the center.

Last fall, Burke told Have You Heard? that he was seeking rezoning for part of the center, which he now has.

“I had this strange piece of property back in the back, 72,000 square feet, that I wanted to utilize,” he says.

He’s preparing to build a 7,000-square-foot center there, which will mainly be office space with some retail options.

“This is the first phase of redeveloping our shopping center,” says Burke, who has owned it for eight years. “I want that center to grow.”

He says he worked with the city to, in part, make sure his residential neighbors were happy with the changes.

Janet Miller was excellent to work with,” he says of the City Council member. “Very supportive of what we’re doing.”

The first part of the 40,000-square-foot main center, which is anchored by Indian Hills Ace Hardware, was built in 1954.

Burke says he’s already made infrastructure improvements there.

“Now it’s time to do some things that the public can readily identify.”

Plans include a new facade, among other upgrades. Burke also is going to create entrances in the back of the center so customers using the smaller center will have easy access from the parking lot.

“We’re looking at probably a four-year plan here,” he says.

Fair’s Shoe Store, which has been in the center for decades, is closing by next month.

“The irony of this whole thing is there’s never been a vacancy in the Indian Hills Shopping Center for 22 years,” Burke says.

He sees the 4,200-square-foot space as an opportunity, though.

“We’re going to take that opportunity to showcase what we’re able to do in the center,” Burke says. “We’ve had two regional places that want into the Wichita market.”

He thinks smaller, more accessible stores such as Ace are an attraction for shoppers.

“That’s what’s made this center successful,” he says. “People don’t want to drive.”

He says being “a little more customer friendly” is what ensures the future of Indian Hills Shopping Center as well.

“It’s a solid little center.”