Category Archives: Downtown

Al’s Old & New Book Store to be first tenant at Block One retail center

booksWICHITA — The new retail center attached to the parking garage at Block One has its first tenant, and it may be an unexpected one.

Anita Siemer is going to move her Al’s Old & New Book Store from Delano, where it’s been for almost six decades, to the new downtown development.

Slawson Cos. is handling leasing at the 8,400-square-foot center. Slawson broker Jerry Jones says if he could create a list of what he wants at the center, he’d “put a book store right at the top of it.”

“We just feel really good about it,” he says.

So does Siemer, even though she never wanted to move.

The New Covenant United Methodist Church purchased Siemer’s space along with another space next door – at 1710 and 1712 W. Douglas – in order to expand. In April, Siemer expressed concerns about having to move due to cost.

“I can find cheap, crummy spaces in … parts of town that would be scary for after dark, and I can find expensive, nice places here in Delano and downtown, but you know, having to pay so much – like three times as much as I currently pay – I don’t think that’s really looking like it works for me right now,” she said at the time.

Now, she says Slawson Cos. has “gotten creative to make it so I could come into the space really in better shape than anything I found in Delano.”

Read More »

Viega to leave Epic Center for sixth floor of Bank of America Center

WICHITA — The Epic Center’s loss will be the Bank of America Center’s gain.

Viega, a plumbing and heating systems manufacturer, is leaving the Epic Center for 32,000 square feet at Phil Ruffin’s Bank of America Center at Douglas and Broadway early next year.

“That’s a great lease,” Ruffin says. “We’re very happy to get it.”

No one with Viega would comment about the move.

“They’re a fine company,” Ruffin says. “I like them very much. They’re a fast-growing company.”

Chris Ruffin, Phil Ruffin’s son, and Jon Cyphert of Ruffin Properties handled the deal with Scott Salome of NAI Martens.

“They did a great job,” Phil Ruffin says.

Read More »

Orpheum Office Building owners association sues Randy Johnston and Hubris Communications

WICHITA — Chris Owen and Randy Johnston purchased the fourth floor of the Orpheum Office Building for a steal last summer, but it’s been anything but a bargain since then.

“We saw this and thought it might be a deal, and it turned out to be a really good deal, or so we thought,” Owen says.

“They think they did their homework, but they didn’t,” says Ram Mofsowitz, president of the building’s owners association.

At issue is the way utilities, janitorial services and other common expenses are calculated. The owners association has sued Johnston and Hubris Communications, where Owen is founder and president.

“Hubris is not involved in any way,” Owen says. “That’s a fishing expedition, and they know it.”

Owen and Johnston purchased the floor for $3,000 at a sheriff’s auction. Owen says they expected to have some fees associated with owning the floor.

“We obviously have no problem with that.”

He says the association divides costs of such things as electricity among owners of the building’s seven floors even though he and Johnston now have a separate meter for their floor.

“This makes no sense,” Owen says.

Read More »

Sam Kuns to move his Air Capital Catering to Market Centre and open Caesars

WICHITA — The mezzanine at the Market Centre at First and Market is once again going to be home to a restaurant.

Air Capital Catering owner Sam Kuns is moving his business there and opening Caesars, a lunch spot.

“What I’m trying to do is preserve my catering business,” Kuns says.

He says he needs a certain volume for the business to be profitable, and he thinks using the space for events after lunch and in the evenings will give him what he needs.

Kuns isn’t going to run the restaurant or catering business on a day-to-day basis, though.

Robert “Big Dog” Bradford and Danny Ayala will run the business.

Kuns calls Bradford “a barbecue king” and “a unique character” and says Ayala has a 40-year background in the meat business.

While Bradford and Ayala run the restaurant and catering company, Kuns says he’ll focus on his Chicken Shack in Bronson.

Read More »

Done deal: Jimmy’s Egg to open by Tanya’s Soup Kitchen

WICHITA — He’s still working on some city permitting, but otherwise Wink Hartman Sr. has a done deal for a new Jimmy’s Egg to open in the same building as Tanya’s Soup Kitchen.

“We’ve already demolished the space,” Hartman says. “We think we’ll for sure be open in September.”

In early May, Have You Heard? reported that Hartman wanted to put his fifth Wichita Jimmy’s Egg in Phil Ruffin’s Sunburst Plaza at 1725 at the southeast corner of Douglas and Hydraulic.

Hartman previously said he thinks there’s room for another breakfast and lunch place in the area, where the Donut Whole is also across the street.

“After that, we are looking at the possibility of downtown Topeka and possibly Emporia,” Hartman says. “We’re going to take a hard look at downtown Topeka.”

He says a breakfast-and-lunch concept makes sense for the state’s capital, where there may be more workers in the area in the morning and around lunch than later in the day.

Hartman may not be done with the Wichita area either.

Read More »

Brothers & Co. to move to Kress Building

WICHITA — Brothers & Co. is moving to the Kress Building downtown with a plan that served the advertising agency well when it opened its first Wichita office:

Lease more space than it needs, and hope to outgrow it.

Shawn Harris (left) and Kristjan Olson of Brothers & Co., which is moving to the Kress Building at Douglas and Broadway.

Shawn Harris (left) and Kristjan Olson of Brothers & Co., which is moving to the Kress Building at Douglas and Broadway.

“We would be absolutely thrilled if we had to go procure more space or add more floors,” says Kristjan Olson, an account supervisor and Wichita team leader.

The Tulsa-based agency, which is known here for the “Bravely Onward” campaign it did for Fidelity Bank, has done business in Wichita for about a decade. It opened its first Wichita office in 900 square feet at WaterWalk Place in early 2013.

The space was too big then, “and it’s now too small for what we need today,” Olson says.

The new space at the Kress Building, which is at the northwest corner of Douglas and Broadway, will be about 4,500 square feet.

“We’ve had a lot of growth,” says associate creative director Shawn Harris. “This move is really a reflection of that growth. … We’re hoping to continue that growth.”

Olson says a big part of that is through talent acquisition.

“Being able to reach out and find new employees who can help us grow more,” he says.

The agency, which also has an Oklahoma City office, has about 80 employees, seven of whom are in Wichita.

“Our space will probably allow for a solid 15-person agency in its current configuration,” Olson says.

He says the agency frequently partners with others, such as video production companies and photographers, and the extra space will help with that as well.

“Part of good client service includes proximity,” Olson says. “The idea is that we’re really here to service our clients and to service them better.”

Though the agency’s work in Wichita isn’t strictly Wichita-focused, it has a number of clients here, such as Kansas Strong and a division of Invista. National clients include Remington firearms and Carhartt and Under Armour clothing.

“We’re spread across a pretty wide variety of industries,” Olson says.

That includes the oil and gas industry, a fair amount in the financial sector and the outdoor sector, including sports such as hunting and fishing.

“A good number of our clients are located in this area,” Olson says. “There’s certainly a number of companies that we’d like to … get on their radar.”

Read More »

Bob’s Place to reopen in the Market Centre, sans founding barber Bob Shanks

WICHITA — Cosmetologist Tracy Carrington and barber Steven Dreiling are carrying on a Wichita tradition by reopening Bob’s Place.

“I was OK with retiring, but if Tracy wants to use the name, she’s perfectly welcome to it,” says Bob Shanks, who was a barber for more than 50 years in three buildings within four blocks of downtown.

The new shop is opening next month in the Market Centre at the southwest corner of First and Market.

Carrington began working with Shanks in 2009 and Dreiling started in 2012.

“We just wanted to … bring it back,” Carrington says of the Bob’s Place name.

“He’s just a huge mentor to me,” she says of Shanks.

“He was just a huge, huge part of my life. This is really … mostly to show my respect and love for him as a mentor.”

Shanks came from a family of barbers and stylists.

“The whole family has been in the hair business for about 250 years total time,” he says.

Unlike the rest of his family, Shanks says, “I didn’t want to work in the suburbs. I wanted to work in the business area.”

He says for years, he cut the hair of “CEOs of major companies and the presidents of major banks and heads of law firms.”

Read More »

Lux model units furnished through contest

WICHITA — It’s been not quite a year since the first residents began moving into the Lux, Michael Ramsey and Robert Eyster’s 7-story mixed-use building at First and Market.

They’re having success filling the units, but Ramsey came up with an idea to better promote them.

“He came up with the idea of doing a little contest,” says Jeremy Luginbill, whose Lifeboat Creative agency has been marketing the building.

There are three types of Lux residential units: the Essential, which is a small, streamlined unit, and units with either one or two bedrooms.

Ramsey assigned each unit a particular store, and Lifeboat employees were tasked with designing the units with items from those stores.

“It was kind of a fun little thing to do,” Luginbill says.

Read More »

Boudoir by Wallflower and new portrait studio to move to Kress Building

WICHITA — May is a popular decision time for Aaron and Christina Patton.

In May 2008, they decided to open Wallflower Studios, the umbrella company for a couple of photography businesses they own.

Last May, the couple decided to expand to the former Roots & Bloom building at 151 S. Laura.

This May – this week, in fact – they signed a deal for new space on the fifth floor of the Kress Building at the northwest corner of Douglas and Broadway.

“Pretty much anytime we have an opportunity to make it better for our clients, we’re going to do that,” Aaron Patton says.

The main focus of the new space will be on Christina Patton’s Boudoir by Wallflower and her emerging Wallflower Women’s Portrait Studio.

Aaron Patton will use the space for his self-named photography business as well, though not in an official capacity.

“This new studio is really geared more toward her work,” he says.

Patton says what attracted him and his wife to the 3,200-square-foot Kress space is the ability to do a custom build for exactly what they need.

“In this one, we get to adapt the space to us, which is nice,” he says. “It’s going to be perfect and just exactly what we need.”

Delton Sandefer of Prudential Dinning-Beard Realtors and Craig Simon of Landmark Commercial Real Estate handled the deal.

The Pattons’ current lease ends June 30. They’ll spend July moving and then reopen at the Kress on Aug. 1.

Aaron Patton says they won’t be going anywhere for a while after that.

“We do have a five-year lease on this space.”

Grand Chapel to get new sign along with possible new owner

WICHITA — The stone sign in front of the Grand Chapel event space at 828 N. Broadway has been demolished, but it’s not because the business is closing.

It’s because a new LED sign with a moving message is going to be installed.

“I’ve been fighting this for years,” says co-owner Dennis Wilkie, who says his partner insisted on the new sign.

The Grand Chapel's sign is now gone, but a new LED sign will soon be in its place.

The Grand Chapel’s sign is now gone, but a new LED sign will soon be in its place.

“Yeah, they might get a lot more attention, but I think they just kind of look cheesy,” Wilkie says. “I’d like to keep it more of a refined look.”

As Wilkie told Have You Heard? in March, he’s trying to sell the business and the building, which is a 1917 former church with 18,000 square feet and seating for more than 600 people in the former sanctuary. There’s also a reception hall, dance floor and bar area.

“I’ve got a lot of interest in the business from people who just wouldn’t qualify to buy the real estate,” Wilkie says.

He says he also has someone who is interested in buying the building, and he says it may be a situation where he can bring two parties together for a deal.

As for the sign, Wilkie says it “could be a permanent thing, or it could be a temporary thing.”

“Maybe we are better off raising the visibility of the place.”