Alzheimer’s Association buys Wichita Festivals building — again

WICHITA — With a lease for new office space, Wichita Festivals is a step closer to its goal of one day being “right front and center” with downtown property. That is freeing the group’s current space for the Alzheimer’s Association to buy it, which is a familiar situation.

When the Alzheimer’s Association bought its current building at 347 S. Laura in 1998, it purchased it from Wichita Festivals.

In fact, when the association recently took its sign down to prepare it for its new space, the former Wichita Festivals sign became visible again.

Now, Wichita Festivals is moving from 1820 E. Douglas to 444 E. William.

“We’re trying to figure out what the right long-term home is,” says president and CEO Mary Beth Jarvis.

She says the group wants to continue to collaborate with people who are working on developing the core of downtown, and the closer the organization is physically, “the more we’re able to be relevant and helpful.”

The new office, where Jarvis expects to be for a couple of years, will be where the city’s career development office used to be.

“So we’re 14 blocks closer to downtown,” Jarvis says.

The Alzheimer’s Association first began talking to Wichita Festivals about its space a couple of years ago.

“They had had kind of a standing offer on the building,” Jarvis says. “We knew it wasn’t our best long-term home.”

The moves will happen this month.

Craig Simon of Landmark Commercial Real Estate handled both deals.

“We are truly excited that this is finally taking place,” says Alzheimer’s Association executive director Marsha Hills. The move “will give us much more room, much better visibility and a parking lot.”

With about 6,000 square feet, the association’s space will double.

“We have just seen, unfortunately, a horrible growth in the families . . . we’re serving,” Hills says. “This insidious disease is growing and growing and growing. We just want families to know we’re here to help them on the journey.”

That’s made for cramped quarters at the association’s Laura address.

“We are doubled up in office spaces,” Hills says. “We have had to turn our education room into just kind of a workroom, and that sort of thing.”

She says someone’s donation made the purchase of the current building possible, and sales from that building along with a second donation are helping with the new purchase.

While Hills is thrilled to be moving to the new space, she’s already thinking of possible future space as well.

“I have told Mary Beth when they get a new building, I’ll have to approve it.”