Cenex gas station and market to open on East 21st Street

UPDATED — A blighted area of East 21st Street is about to experience a revival.

“We’re going in there and building a new gas station,” Amir Etezazi says.

His company, Etezazi Industries, a division of Etezazi Corp., is building a new Cenex gas station and an expanded convenience store in the former Amoco station and market just east of the Canal Route.

“It’s definitely going to enhance the area,” says City Council member Lavonta Williams. “It is going to create another opportunity for people to create pride.”

The station has been abandoned for about a decade.

Amir Etezazi, right, and his father, Masoud Etezazi, are renovating this former market and a neighboring former Amoco station into a new market and Cenex station.

Amir Etezazi, right, and his father, Masoud Etezazi, are renovating this former market and a neighboring former Amoco station into a new market and Cenex station.

“Anytime you have at least one … blighted building where something is not kept up, you’re going to invite illegal dumping,” Williams says. “You’re going to invite illegal activity.”

Etezazi, who bought the building in December, says there have been “a lot of challenges” so far.

“It was vandalized pretty badly,” he says. “Constantly, there is some sort of vandalism.”

People dumping trash on the property is a big issue, he and Williams say.

Williams says Etezazi finally put a Dumpster on the property to give people an option for their trash. “Don’t just drop it on the lot.”

Etezazi says the Dumpster actually is there for his use, and he wants people to stop seeing the area as a place for trash.

So far, most of the work Etezazi has done has been on the inside of the 7,500-square-foot building, which he’s divided for various uses.

Etezazi plans a full kitchen with fresh and prepared foods.

Williams says it’s “just another opportunity for people to have something accessible to purchase items,” especially for those who may be walking to the store.

She says Etezazi’s store will have fresh produce and other items the Dollar General across the street might not have.

“I’m really looking forward to that,” Williams says.

Etezazi plans to lease space on the east end of the building for a liquor store.

“We had to go back and forth a little bit with the city,” he says.

Etezazi also has three other convenience stores, including a Phillips 66 at Kellogg and Hillside, one in Newton and a Valero at Central and Ridge.

He’s hoping the Cenex will open in early October, but he says it more likely will be the middle of the month.

Etezazi also is hoping there will be a payoff for his hard work and frustrations.

“We’re investing a lot of money in here.”

You don’t say

“Maybe we’re practicing for a government shutdown.”

City Council member Pete Meitzner’s response when asked why the council isn’t having another meeting until Nov. 4

You don’t say

“I don’t normally spend this much time having a conversation with you because I know it doesn’t do any good.”

– Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer to conservative blogger Bob Weeks as the two argued over cronyism during Tuesday’s City Council meeting

“I really wasn’t offended today … because the mayor’s been ruder to better people than me.”

– Weeks’ response when asked about the exchange after the meeting

You don’t say

“Lent begins tomorrow, and I consider today a down payment on my pain and suffering.”

– Council member Pete Meitzner on Tuesday’s laborious City Council meeting

Indian Hills Shopping Center to expand

WICHITA — Wichita may continue to grow east and west, but Larry Burke thinks his Indian Hills Shopping Center is a perfectly situated central retail center.

“As the community has spread east and west, there’s … a vacuum here of underserved neighborhoods,” says Burke, who used to own the Copper Oven Cafe & Bakery at the center.

Last fall, Burke told Have You Heard? that he was seeking rezoning for part of the center, which he now has.

“I had this strange piece of property back in the back, 72,000 square feet, that I wanted to utilize,” he says.

He’s preparing to build a 7,000-square-foot center there, which will mainly be office space with some retail options.

“This is the first phase of redeveloping our shopping center,” says Burke, who has owned it for eight years. “I want that center to grow.”

He says he worked with the city to, in part, make sure his residential neighbors were happy with the changes.

Janet Miller was excellent to work with,” he says of the City Council member. “Very supportive of what we’re doing.”

The first part of the 40,000-square-foot main center, which is anchored by Indian Hills Ace Hardware, was built in 1954.

Burke says he’s already made infrastructure improvements there.

“Now it’s time to do some things that the public can readily identify.”

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You don’t say

“It’s just a huge weight off our backs.”

Brent Steven on the City Council vote approving additional parking for his and his brother Brad’s new Hill Bar and Grill

District Advisory Board votes in favor of extra parking for the Hill Bar and Grill

WICHITA — The issue of whether developers can get extra parking for a bar and grill in the former Barrier’s space is heading to City Council.

A District Advisory Board considered the issue Monday with a packed audience in attendance. Many of the 70 or so people who were there are opposed to the 2 a.m. closing time brothers Brad and Brent Steven want for their new Hill Bar and Grill.

The board voted 8 to 1 in favor of allowing building owners Christian Ablah and W.G. Farha to raze a duplex near the building for more parking.

City Council likely will consider the issue early in the new year.

Angelo’s won’t open in former Barrier’s space, but another restaurant working on it

UPDATED — Angelo’s won’t be opening in the former Barrier’s space at Douglas and Oliver after all, but another restaurant will pending final city approval on increased parking.

“I never was positive that we were opening there,” says Gina Fasciano-Hogan. “It was actually way premature that that was mentioned at all.”

Fasciano-Hogan had been speaking with someone who had hoped to buy the building but didn’t succeed.

“That’s how premature it was.”

She still wants to reopen her family’s popular restaurant, though.

“We still want to, yes, and would like to stay in the College Hill area,” Fasciano-Hogan says. “I’m still in the planning stages.”

She says she’s working on a business plan and should be ready to do something in about six months.

“Hopefully when the time comes, something will be available in that area.”

Another group wants part of the former Barrier’s space for a bar and restaurant. Neither the group nor its representatives are sharing details about who the restaurateurs are or what they’re planning.

According to a staff report for the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, the real estate agents for the new owners of the building — who closed on Thursdayapplied for a conditional use permit to tear down a duplex near the property for parking.

They also have plans to tear down a building behind the former Barrier’s building but don’t need permission for that because it’s already zoned for neighborhood retail.

The duplex is behind Citizens Bank of Kansas and is zoned for multifamily residential use.

The planning commission unanimously approved the permit with some modifications. This followed numerous public speakers who voiced concerns over the plan along with support for it.

A couple of speakers said they didn’t think the building, which has been vacant for more than two years, can ever attract another business without more parking.

“This building is an eyesore,” resident Trae Staats said. “Frankly, guys, something’s gotta give.”

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Bennington Place executive apartments one step closer to approval

WICHITA — Developers Mike Brand and Steve Clark are one step closer to being able to build their Bennington Place executive apartments near the southeast corner of 21st and Maize.

The planning commission on Thursday voted 11 to 2 in favor of allowing the 130-unit complex.

There were what one person calls a “boatload” of protesters attending, and there was a petition against the apartments with more than 100 signatures.

Now, a vote goes to a District Advisory Board Nov. 7. The earliest it’s likely to then go to City Council for a final vote would be Dec. 6.

City zoning codes are ranked from least intensive to most intensive.

Commercial uses are ranked at a higher level — meaning they create more traffic, among other things — than residential uses.

Brand’s property is already zoned limited commercial, so planners would view multifamily zoning — which he’s seeking — as less intensive.

As Brand told Have You Heard? earlier this week, he’s already tried to do something commercial there with no success.

“Over the years, I just haven’t gotten the right person in there,” he said. “There’s not a lot of commercial going on right now.”

Which is why he said he thought of apartments.

“It’s a great location for apartments.”

City mulls proposals for Wichita Ice Center

0107icerink_mb4.jpgUPDATED — There’s concern swirling through the ice skating community about a possible change in management at the Wichita Ice Center.

The city issued a request for proposals and now is evaluating three potential center managers.

That includes Virginia-based Rink Management Services, which currently manages the center, New Jersey-based Ice World Consulting and Genesis Health Clubs, the only local group that submitted a proposal.

Some parents of children who skate at the center have contacted the city to express concern that Genesis, which doesn’t operate any ice facilities, appears to be the front runner.

“It would be detrimental to our skaters if a company took over the ice rink that had no experience,” says Lisa Totten, whose 11-year-old daughter is a competitive skater at the center.

“It’s not just a business. There’s technical expertise they need to know.”

Doug Kupper, the city’s director of park and recreation, says no decisions have been made on new management yet.

“To speculate who is and who isn’t going to be managing the ice center is premature because we don’t have anything at all finalized. We’re nowhere near where we need to be in even going to the City Council with a recommendation.”

In 2006, Rink Management got a two-year contract with the city to run the center, and that’s been extended with two one-year contracts.

There are no renewals left, though, and the city had to issue an RFP “whether we liked them or didn’t like them,” Kupper says.

However, Rink Management’s contract has been extended to March while the city makes a decision.

“They’ve been pretty good,” Kupper says of the company, adding, “There’s always room for improvements.”

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