Category Archives: South side

Max Cole to open Mindfire Children’s Academy day care

WICHITA — A year after adding a Starwood Hotels call center to his former Office This space at 4031 E. Harry, Max Cole is preparing to open a day care to help Starwood workers and other groups that are expanding there.

“We’ve got a lot of things going on,” Cole says.

All but 40,000 square feet of his 370,000 square feet of leasable space is occupied.

Starwood has more than 51,000 square feet and about 550 employees. Cole says Starwood will be adding more workers in the next two to three years for a total of about 900.

The center has workers almost around the clock, so Cole says the day care will operate 24 hours a day.

“Starwood needs it badly,” he says.

He says there are about 1,100 employees total among all the companies and organizations with space at his center.

Cole is calling the day care Mindfire Children’s Academy after his Mindfire Academy, which is a school to teach adults and children digital video, audio and the art of making video games.

The day care will open after plans are approved with the city, which Cole thinks should be within three or four months.

Though Cole is starting the day care, he says he’s in talks with a company to run it.

“We’re kind of designing it as a high-tech thing,” he says of helping children learn.

Initially, the day care will be in about 12,000 square feet and be able to hold almost 100 children.

“We think that’s our start,” Cole says.

He thinks it likely will grow, though, due to other growth at the complex.

That includes Saint Francis Community Services, which has a contract with the Department for Children and Families to provide reintegration, foster care and adoption services.

“Our foster care homes program has, like, tripled in size, and we’re expecting even a bit larger growth,” says Saint Francis’ CFO Brian Carlgren.

Saint Francis is adding 20 employees to its current 240. It now has 31,000 square feet and is expanding with an additional almost 12,000 square feet.

“This other area will give us more of a storefront, too,” Carlgren says.

Though Saint Francis doesn’t need all the additional square feet right now, he says it can be used for storage and then Saint Francis will have “the ability then to grow into it if we need to.”

“It’s been great,” Carlgren says of being at the center. “Max has been a great landlord to work with. He’s making lots of improvements to the building.”

Communications provider Ideatek also is looking to expand at the center.

The Buhler-based company provides phone and Internet service and data transport over fiber-optic cables.

Ivan Kuhn, vice president of sales and marketing, says the Wichita office is projected to grow substantially in the next year thanks to a new contract with a wireless provider to build a fiber-optic ring around Wichita.

“We may double or better in the next 12 months,” he says.

Ideatek has about 2,500 square feet and can expand into the suite next to that for another more than 2,500 square feet.

Cole says things have gone well since he converted from his Office This concept.

“Oh, god, we’ve done great.”

He says he still needs a name for the center, though.

“You know what I’m thinking about naming it? I’m thinking about naming it the Former Wichita Mall,” Cole says of the space, which once was the Wichita Mall.

“Whatever I name the (thing), everybody’s going to call it the former Wichita Mall.”

Postal Service confirms call center move

WICHITA — The U.S. Postal Service confirms it will be putting what it calls a customer care center, which is a call center, at 4509 E. 47th St. South.

“The Postal Service is committed to providing exceptional customer service from purchase to delivery and all points in between,” said vice president of consumer and industry affairs James Nemec in a statement.

“Our goal is to ensure each and every customer contact is a pleasant and satisfying one.”

The call center began operating last month in the postal service’s former remote encoding center at 2601 S. Oliver St. It employs about 250 people.

The center will move to its new 49,000-square-foot space by late January.

U.S. Postal Service signs lease that should enable DCF to move more quickly

WICHITA — It was around this time last year that the state was considering leasing Wichita broker Jeff Greenberg’s 100,000-square-foot building near East 47th Street South and South Oliver.

The Department for Children and Families, which wants to leave the Finney State Office Building downtown where it currently is, seriously looked at Greenberg’s space. The deal didn’t happen, though.

Now, another deal related to that has been signed.

No one is commenting yet, but sources say the U.S. Postal Service has signed a deal for a good percentage of Greenberg’s building.

The postal serivce has a remote encoding center at 2601 S. Oliver, which is where DCF now wants to locate.

As Have You Heard? reported last month, the postal service is winding down those operations – its lease expires in September 2015 – but now it’s planning a call center for the space.

The call center, which will be one of four the postal service has nationally, will answer customers’ inquiries via phone and e-mail.

The remote encoding center has been at the South Oliver space for two decades. At one time there were more than 1,000 employees there. Now, there are 251 career employees left, meaning employees who are guaranteed jobs.

It looks like the call center is what the postal service has planned for Greenberg’s space. It also appears that the postal service could move within the next few months, which would enable DCF to finalize the lease it wants and move in more quickly.

Look for more information on the deal in the coming weeks.

10 Wichita apartments sell to two groups

WICHITA — Numerous Wichita apartments have recently changed hands.

First, Lew McGinnis, an Oklahoma businessman with a history of buying and selling apartment properties here and in his home state, has purchased six more in Wichita for a dozen total.

McGinnis didn’t return calls for comment, but someone in his office – who declined to give her full name – confirmed that he has purchased new properties here and is now managing them as well.

They include the 240-unit Barclay Square Apartments near Riverside Park; the 220-unit Cedarbrooke Apartments on East Harry just east of Rock Road; the 138-unit Eastborough Apartments on East Kellogg just west of Rock Road; the 196-unit Kingsborough Apartments near South Seneca and West 27th Street South; the 244-unit Rockborough Apartments near Douglas and Rock; and the 239-unit Woodgate Apartments on East 21st Street North between Oliver and Woodlawn.

There have been some maintenance issues at some of the complexes since McGinnis took over late last week.

“Yes, when we took over the management of the company, basically what had happened is there was a lot of work orders,” the McGinnis employee says.

Cedarbrooke resident Mary Bouray says her air conditioning was out for almost a week.

“They keep telling me they don’t have any maintenance people,” Bouray says.

The McGinnis employee says that’s being addressed.

“We have maintenance staff from our other Wichita properties so we’ve brought them in to help with the workload to make sure everything gets done quickly,” she says. “They’re going to be taking care of the work orders in the order that they were received.”

In other Wichita apartment news, business partners Rupan Dev and Anm Doza have purchased four apartment communities so far this year.

This month, they bought the 120-unit Elms Apartments, which is on East Harry between Hillside and Hydraulic

A couple of months before that, they bought the 79-unit Northtown Square Apartments at 21st and Waco.

This spring, they bought the 60-unit Biscayne Apartments on East Wassall just west of Hydraulic, and in the winter they purchased the 108-unit Bradford Glen Apartments on South Hydraulic between Kellogg and Lincoln.

Jeff Englert and Nathan Farha of NAI Martens handled the deals.

Dev says he’s been in the gas station business, but “the gas station is kind of a headache for us.”

He says real estate has more potential for cash flow down the road, so he’s interested in purchasing more apartments.

“Maybe one more this year and a few more next year.”

For now, though, Dev says he’ll concentrate on what he has.

“Right now, we’re remodeling all our rooms.”

That includes plans to take out old carpet, add flowers to landscaping and replace windows and gutters, among other things, Dev says.

“We’ll start very soon.”

Sunbelt Rentals enters market with store

WICHITA — Sunbelt Rentals, an international company that bills itself as the second-largest rental company nationally, is entering the Wichita market.

“We’ve got a variety of products that we’ll be able to provide,” says district manager Keith Dressendorfer.

He says Sunbelt, which is based in England and has U.S. headquarters in South Carolina, already has customers here. Now they’ll have a store to shop at in addition to online.

Sunbelt is remodeling a 13,000-square-foot building at 3410 W. 30th St. South. Dressendorfer says it should be ready by late September, but the company will have a soft opening sometime in August.

There are more than 400 Sunbelt stores, many of which surround the Midwest.

“Basically there’s been a void in the Midwest,” Dressendorfer says. “We just want to start filling in some of the Midwest.”

The company now has stores in Oklahoma City, Joplin, Mo., Rogers, Ark., and Kansas City. A second Kansas City store is in the works.

“A year ago, none of those existed for us,” Dressendorfer says. He says there’s “quite a lot of growth up in this area for us.”

Sunbelt does “a little bit of everything,” Dressendorfer says.

There are a dozen divisions, such as a general tool group, a concrete and masonry group, an earth moving division, an oil and gas division, a climate control division and a scaffolding division.

Dressendorfer says customers could be anyone from a homeowner needing to rent something for a one-time use to a Fortune 500 company needing to rent a number of things.

“We will do business with pretty much anybody,” he says.

General and commercial contractors are some of Sunbelt’s most regular customers.

Dressendorfer says there is a budget for nine employees initially, “But who knows where it will go after that?”

He says Sunbelt plans to hire locally.

Dressendorfer says a second Wichita store or more throughout Kansas are possibilities.

“There will always be that opportunity.”

Dakhil family pays for second Lord’s Diner food truck, which debuts Wednesday

WICHITA — The Lord’s Diner is debuting its second food truck on Wednesday and – unexpectedly – it’ll be fully paid for.

Physician Shaker Dakhil read an April Have You Heard? column about the success of the first Lord’s Diner food truck and how the nonprofit planned a second one for Friendship Park in the Hilltop neighborhood.

Dakhil called the Lord’s Diner and said he’d like to buy a third truck to help the organization feed the homeless and hungry.

“He can’t stand the thought of hungry children,” says Lord’s Diner director Jan Haberly.

She told Dakhil that the nonprofit couldn’t start thinking of a third truck until it pays for the second one. So Dakhil and his wife, Kathie, donated $115,000 for the truck and some supplies since, as Dakhil says, “Metal doesn’t feed people.”

The money was going to come from the Lord’s Diner general fund. Haberly says the donation “actually frees up that money to secure the food for all that we’re doing.”

Two diners and a truck serve about 1,200 people a day. Haberly anticipates the daily average will jump by at least 300 if not 400 more people a day.

“I always said I wanted to open my own restaurant for the homeless,” Dakhil says.

Dakhil, an oncologist who is president of the Cancer Center of Kansas, says the center has satellite centers to treat patients closer to where they live, and he says he appreciates that the Lord’s Diner practices the same concept.

“Take the food where the hungry people are,” he says.

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Terry Merrifield to close her Health and Healing practice

terryWICHITA — Family physician Terry Merrifield is retiring after May 30, but it’s not entirely by choice.

“I had hoped to go on a few more years,” says the 66-year-old, who owns Health and Healing at 9415 E. Harry.

“Everything about health care has become more and more complex,” Merrifield says.

Whether it’s the government, insurance companies or large employers, everyone seems to need more and more assurances that they’re getting what they need out of her office.

Merrifield says there’s “so much complicated paperwork and computer programming that doesn’t always work right.”

“It has taken more and more time away from my practice,” she says. “It’s just worn me out.”

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Oliver’s Little Italy to close Saturday; owner may reopen new restaurant

UPDATED — Scott Cosentino is closing his Oliver’s Little Italy on Saturday.

He says the restaurant at 1930 S. Oliver, which opened in late September, was in a bad location, had no money, no point of sale system and not very good help.

“Shall I continue?” he says.

Cosentino, a New Jersey native, hopes to open another restaurant soon with a financial backer. He says this time it may be in Wellington or Park City.

He says the one issue Oliver’s Little Italy didn’t have was a problem with the food, which Cosentino says he’ll prove once again when he reopens.

“I would show all of the restaurants of the town how to make good Italian food, because they don’t know.”

Hair Factor Barber Shop closes after 56 years; contents to be sold at auction

WICHITA — Janice Chambers is in the antiques business, but when it comes to selling the contents of her husband’s barbershop, she’s decided to let Hudson Auction handle it.

“He never threw anything away,” Chambers says of her husband, Don, who owned Hair Factor Barber Shop for 56 years.

“Oh, it was horrible.”

Don Chambers closed his barbershop after business March 21.

Most recently, the shop was at 1923 S. Hydraulic, although Chambers often made house calls for those who couldn’t visit him and volunteered to cut the hair of veterans.

Janice Chambers says it took three 18-foot trailers to move the contents for the April 6 auction. The 1 p.m. auction will be at 2009 N. Mosley.

There are all kinds of barbershop items for sale, including a couple of revolving barber’s poles.

“Everything under the sun you can imagine,” is how Janice Chambers describes what’s for sale.

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Sweet Willy’s Hillbilly BBQ to open on South Seneca

WICHITA — Insurance salesman Randy Hare has a number of inspirations for opening his own restaurant, Sweet Willy’s Hillbilly BBQ, near 47th and South Seneca.

“I got my roots from the Ozarks and from tasting the good Carolina barbecue around,” Hare says.

willy“Plus, my wife needed a job,” he says of his wife, Pam.

Hare has been the manager at City Life Cafe, where Youth for Christ kids have a chance to learn on the job, and he says he wants to offer them another place to do that.

The Hares are planning to open Sweet Willy’s at 4628 S. Seneca in about three weeks.

“It’s just going to be a little 30-seater,” Hare says.

He says they’ll also have catering, a drive-through and a food truck.

Hare plans to smoke the restaurant’s meat in front of the restaurant in view of passersby.

“If you’re down at the Sonic, you’re going to be able to smell my smoke.”

That’s part of his plan.

“You’ve got to have something.”

Hare says he’ll have smoky, fall-off-the-bone ribs and a number of unusual offerings, such as traditional Poutine french fries with cheese curds in a brown gravy, inspired by Canadian partner.

Hare says he’s going to keep his insurance job as well.

“Unfortunately,” he says, “it’s against the law for me to give somebody a steak to buy a life insurance policy.”