Daily Archives: Oct. 1, 2013

You don’t say

“You can talk about doing something different all you want, but then eventually you kind of have to do it.”

Aaron Wirtz, social media manager of Subaru of Wichita and Super Car Guys, who’s getting some attention for a video he made to promote a speaking engagement at the DrivingSales ExecutiveSummit in Las Vegas later this month

Complete Landscaping files Chapter 11, is hopeful for large new contract

WICHITA — A Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing is the latest twist in what’s been an ongoing financial and legal struggle for Complete Landscaping Systems.

“I’ve taken a look at the gross revenues of the company, which are pretty substantial,” attorney David Eron says. “I think we’ve got plenty to work with to turn this thing around.”

In early September, it looked like Complete Landscaping had sold most of its assets to Wichita attorney Rick Hodge, who said he wanted to expand his Yard Concerns landscaping business.

Eron says what happened with Hodge is “a sensitive question.”

“Bottom line is there never was a final agreement with Rick Hodge,” Eron says.

“It was just immediately apparent that this deal with Rick was absolutely not going to come anywhere close to taking care of the financial issues the company had,” he says. “I personally told him the deal was done, and it was not going to go forward.”

The first hearing in the bankruptcy case is Wednesday.

“There’s certain things we have to do in order to continue operating the business,” Eron says. The point is to “try to get some time where we don’t have to worry about all the lawsuits.”

There are about 35 lawsuits again Complete Landscaping, mostly from local and some out-of-state vendors.

“Really, most of the debt problems generally are fallout from the Bank of America contract,” Eron says.

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Three state agencies close to signing new downtown leases despite city’s objections

The former Ryan International Airlines building.

UPDATED — Three state agencies, including two that currently are in the Finney State Office Building, are close to finalizing leases for the former Ryan International Airlines building at 266 N. Main.

The Joint Committee on State Building Construction will consider leases for the Kansas Corporation Commission and the Kansas Human Rights Commission next month and the state Board of Indigents’ Defense Services on Wednesday.

“To my great surprise and chagrin, this committee has no authority to stop this process other than the bully pulpit,” says state Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, a new member of the committee. “We can raise questions about the appropriateness of the move … and hopefully shame them into doing the right thing.”

Ward says the reasons the state has offered for why nine agencies need to leave the Finney building, a city-owned property at 230 E. William, “don’t seem to hold water compared to the bid given by the city.”

He’s referring to a new lease rate the city is offering to the state to keep the Department for Children and Families at the Finney building. DCF has more than 550 of the 700 state employees at the building.

According to a Sept. 9 letter Mayor Carl Brewer sent to Gov. Sam Brownback, the city would slash DCF’s lease rate from $11 a square foot to $6 a square foot for half the space it currently has. The reduced space is at DCF’s request, according to the letter. The city also offered to make a $6 million investment in improvements in the building.

“It is my hope, as mayor of Wichita, that the valuable relationship between the City and State can be preserved by a responsible business decision allowing the continued use of the Finney State Office Building as a centralized location for state agencies,” Brewer wrote.

Chuck Knapp, spokesman for the state Department of Administration, says it’s a “foregone conclusion” that DCF and the Kansas Corporation Commission will be leaving, because the Finney building does not meet their needs.

“Someone could offer you a cardboard box for free, and if it didn’t meet your housing needs, you … wouldn’t accept it,” Knapp says. “I’m certainly not saying the Finney building is a cardboard box. … Price isn’t necessarily the determining factor in the deal.”

In his letter, Brewer referenced a July meeting he had with Brownback after which a new conversation started with DCF about how the city could meet the department’s needs.

“However, despite our best efforts, we encountered obstacles that prevented a full evaluation of our counterproposal,” he wrote.

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