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.

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Voegeli family to expand its Birds Eye Holdings in east Wichita

UPDATED – Birds Eye Holdings, a private equity firm the Voegeli family formed last year after selling Exacta Aerospace, is almost doubling its square footage with a move to the east side of Wichita.

“We’ve seen a tremendous amount of activity, and we really need to grow our team … to capitalize on those (opportunities),” says CFO Seth Albin.

The firm now is in almost 2,000 square feet in the Bank of America Center at Douglas and Broadway.

The new space at Country Club Park at 13th and Webb Road will be almost twice that size.

Birds Eye has five employees and plans to add two or three people in the next 12 months, Albin says.

“That would have created a little bit of a pinch over here.”

Albin says the employees will be a combination of support staff and what he calls diligence team members who can help with deals.

“It’s been remarkable what we’ve seen in terms of activity,” Albin says. “We look for deals that create value for our shareholders on a long-term basis.”

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Bank of America slashes space at namesake building, plans to close banking center

UPDATED — Bank of America Center’s namesake tenant is significantly reducing its size at the building at Douglas and Broadway.

“That’s just one of the many they’re downsizing,” says Chris Ruffin, director of real estate for his father’s Ruffin Properties.

“It’s kind of sad since they’ve been such a longtime tenant. They’re a great tenant.”

Bank of America building in downtown Wichita.  (Oct. 9, 2012.)The North Carolina-based bank has been cutting costs and eliminating thousands of jobs over the past few years.

Currently, Bank of America has 50,000 square feet at its downtown Wichita headquarters.

“They’re cutting down to about 12,000 square feet and giving … us back the second floor,” says Phil Ruffin, who owns the building. “That’s how far we’ve gotten so far.”

The bank’s lease expires Dec. 31.

“We have been reviewing all of our corporate real estate needs across the country over the last several years,” bank spokeswoman Diane Wagner said in an e-mail.

“We have identified some areas that will allow us to become more efficient and are working to reduce the space we have to fit the needs of our businesses. In Wichita, this means we are reducing our space in the 100 N. Broadway location . . . . We do plan to continue to have some offices in the building, but can’t share any further details at this time.”

Wagner does confirm, though, that Bank of America’s retail banking center will close.

“As it relates to our banking center, after careful consideration, we have chosen to close the banking center at 100 N. Broadway as we will consolidate and serve our banking center customers’ needs from our nearby Mid Towne Center facility at 411 S Topeka St.,” Wagner wrote. “This consolidation into our motor bank building will require significant investment in the facility and demonstrates our commitment in the downtown district for Wichita.”

“It’s beautiful space,” Phil Ruffin says. “There’s no space like it in Wichita, I can tell you that.”

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All federal agencies at the 271 Building downtown will by gone by September

WICHITA — By the end of August, all of the federal agencies in the 271 Building at 271 W. Third St. downtown will be gone.

Have You Heard? has written about several of the departures already. What follows is a complete list.

“This was originally an IRS lease at this building, but they returned some of the space, and then we backfilled it with other agencies … which is kind of why everyone is leaving at once,” says Angela Brees, a spokeswoman for the General Services Administration.

The IRS has about 33,000 square feet of the 95,000-square-foot building.

Typically, whenever a federal agency’s lease is up, there has to be a bidding process for new space.

The IRS office and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office are moving to 555 N. Woodlawn. They’re taking about 40,000 square feet there, and there’s another 23,000 square feet available to lease.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration office and the Health and Human Services Inspector General are moving to Phil Ruffin’s Bank of America Center at Broadway and Douglas.

The Small Business Administration is moving to the Page Court Building at the Garvey Center at 220 E. Douglas.

The Defense Contract Audit Agency and the Defense Contract Management Agency are moving to the Lux building at First and Market.

The Railroad Retirement Board has already moved to the Cambridge Office Park south of 21st and Webb Road, and the Citizenship and Immigration Services office has already moved to Ruffin’s building at 550 W. Douglas in Delano.

The status of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Defense Inspector General offices is still unclear.

All of the agencies need to be out of the 271 Building by the end of August when the lease is up.

“We’re still dealing with them on that,” says Trey Ayers, executive vice president of Guthrie, Okla.-based Dominion Properties, which owns the building.

Dominion is seeking new tenants outside of federal agencies.

“We like Wichita, and we like what it’s about,” Ayers says. “Hopefully we can help some other local folks move into the property.”

Occupational Safety & Health Administration to move to Bank of America Center

UPDATED — The Occupational Safety & Health Administration is going to open an office in the Bank of America Center at Douglas and Broadway.

“We’re real excited about having them,” says Chris Ruffin, director of real estate for his father Phil Ruffin’s Ruffin Properties.

OSHA, which is taking 6,500 square feet on the fourth floor, signed a 10-year lease.

Grant Tidemann and Marty Gilchrist of J.P. Weigand & Sons helped with the deal.

“They were a lot of help,” Chris Ruffin says. Government deals “are very complicated.”

Martin Pringle also recently signed a 10-year extension on its lease at the Bank of America Center. The law firm has the entire fifth floor, which is about 35,000 square feet.

When Phil Ruffin bought the building in 2006, it had a 52 percent occupancy rate. Now, it’s at about 94 percent.

“We are getting full,” Chris Ruffin says. “We only have a little bit of space left.”

He says he’s working with several people on other potential deals there.

“We’re just trying to get the rest of the spaces leased.”

Petroleum Club management to take over City Hall Cafe

WICHITA — The Wichita City Hall Cafe is going to reopen Jan. 3 under new management.

The same group that manages the Petroleum Club, the Walkway Cafe at the Bank of America Center and the Atrium Cafe at the Ruffin Building is going to provide food service at City Hall.

“We just kind of have a concept going that’s fairly easy to duplicate,” says general manager Kathy Latham.

She wasn’t looking to expand her food service.

City Council member Jeff Longwell happened to be at the Bank of America Center for an event and had some of her group’s food.

“I thought their food was delicious,” he says.

City Hall had just lost its previous food provider, so Longwell suggested Latham submit a proposal.

“It’s all about timing I suppose,” he says.

Longwell says Latham’s group has a great track record.

“It should be a natural to have a cafe that people can rely on,” he says.

Latham says her staff does an excellent job, though she thinks City Hall will be it for expansions.

“I don’t want to go past my limit of what we can do successfully and good,” she says. “I don’t want to stretch ourselves to where we’re just slinging food.”

Longwell is thrilled the City Hall deal with Latham worked out.

“Trust me,” he says, “when you weigh as much as I do, you know good food.”

You don’t say

“Well, I finally decided that if the Big Guy comes into the Walkway (Cafe) or the Petroleum Club and wants to update his Facebook, I better be ready.”

— General manager Kathy Latham, jokingly referring to Bank of America Center owner Phil Ruffin as the reason the two restaurants now have Wi-Fi

Bank of America Center renovates almost 17,000 square feet

WICHITA — Certain areas of the Bank of America Center at Douglas and Broadway — including one area that’s been vacant for more than 15 years — are getting a makeover in preparation for new tenants.

“I’m gutting . . . the lower level of the lobby floor and making all those offices,” says Chris Ruffin, director of real estate for his father Phil Ruffin’s Ruffin Properties.

Phil Ruffin owns the Bank of America Center.

Chris Ruffin says the 9,000 square feet on the lower level hasn’t been occupied for years.

“We’re redoing the whole space because it’s just not leasable the way it is,” he says. It “is going to be a great space when I’m done with it.”

He’s adding high-end lighting, new carpeting and building new walls.

“I need to brighten it up down there,” Ruffin says. “I need to make it presentable and move-in ready.”

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Weather Data to move to Bank of America Center

bank of america pic1

Weather Data Services, an AccuWeather Co., is getting a new home.

The company is moving from the Farm Credit Bank Building on
Waco to Phil Ruffin’s Bank of America Center at Broadway and Douglas.

“We needed more space,” says Barry Lee Myers, chief executive of AccuWeather in State College, Pa. “We are actually expanding a number of things.”

The new, almost 8,000-square-foot space, where Weather Data will move in the fall, will have a television studio for what Myers calls “live reports from Tornado Alley” on AccuWeather TV (which is similar to the Weather Channel except it has local weather at all times).

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