Ross Dress For Less signs for east-side store a week after inking west-side deal

WICHITA — East-siders, Ross Dress For Less has not forgotten you.

Last week, Have You Heard? reported the discount chain is opening in 25,000 square feet of the former Circuit City space on West Kellogg.

Now, the national retailer has signed a deal for the 25,000 square feet Barnes & Noble is vacating at Eastgate Plaza at Kellogg and Rock Road.

The bookstore’s last day in business there is Dec. 30. A Barnes & Noble spokeswoman previously said the chain decided to consolidate its Wichita stores into one location at Bradley Fair.

Ross Dress For Less will take possession of the building in February. Remodeling should take two or three months.

“It’s great for the center,” says Andy Boyd of Walter Morris Cos., who is one of the brokers who handled the deal.

With stores such as Friends Fashion and T.J. Maxx already at Eastgate, Boyd says there’s a nice cluster of clothing shops.

“It’s kind of becoming more of a fashion-centric center.”

Boyd says Ross Dress For Less’ two leases here also represent growth nationally and confidence in Wichita.

Christian Ablah of Classic Real Estate and Randi Lefko of R.H. Johnson in Kansas City also were involved in the deal.

West-side Box Central to move and add U-Haul rentals

WICHITA — Box Central, the company Clif and Sherilyn Elder started after buying the Love Box factory outlet stores in 2006, is expanding.

The Elders are moving their west-side store from 2,750 square feet at Central and St. Paul to 6,000 square feet at the southwest corner of Douglas and West streets.

“We have added U-Haul to our mix along with packaging and shipping,” Clif Elder says.

There’s another U-Haul outlet near where the Elders will be operating. Clif Elder says a U-Haul district manager explained that that’s a corporate store that uses an answering service.

“The guy said a lot of people don’t like that,” Elder says. “He said they have to wait for a call back.”

The Elders are adding U-Haul rentals to their almost 3,000-square-foot east-side store near Central and Edgemoor as well.

“All we’re going to do here is we may have, like, a truck and a trailer showing that they’re available,” Clif Elder says.

The Elders also are looking at adding climate-controlled storage units at their new west-side space.

Don Piros of Landmark Commercial Real Estate and Don Ablah of Classic Real Estate handled the deal for the space, which Box Central should be in by no later than the 15th.

Southeast corner of Central and Oliver ready for development, including a restaurant

WICHITA — It’s been a long time coming, but developer Christian Ablah has acquired an entire city block on the south side of Central near Oliver and is preparing the property for development.

“I’m just basically preparing this for future development,” says Ablah, a broker with his family’s Classic Real Estate.

“I’m just trying to clean up the area,” he says. “The project’s taken a lot longer than I thought it ever would.”

Ablah is close to a deal with a restaurant that would go in the former Dillons store on the southeast corner of the intersection.

There’s talk that it could be a certain Mexican restaurant looking to expand.

“I can’t do the guessing game, but I can tell you it is a sit-down restaurant,” Ablah says.

Part of his demolition of nearby duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes is to make room for parking for the restaurant.

“All the demolition will be complete in a couple of weeks,” Ablah says.

He says any new development will complement what Nathan Toubia is doing with his Bocconcini Italian Eatery next to the former Dillons.

Ablah hopes to close on the restaurant deal in a couple of weeks, but he’s working on other leases as well.

“There’s a lot of demand right now for office — large office space — as well as retail,” Ablah says.

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Avon Beauty Center to open at Pawnee and Broadway

WICHITA — A third Avon Beauty Center is opening in Wichita.

“It used to be just door-to-door, and Avon opened the opportunity for any representative who wanted to . . . get a license to sell in a store setting,” says Christine Watkins, who is opening the new store.

Watkins, who has been selling Avon products for a decade, is opening her store early next month in front of the Walmart on the southeast corner of Pawnee and Broadway.

“It’s a great opportunity to increase my sales,” she says.

With Avon Beauty Centers already in the northeast and west parts of Wichita, Watkins says she had to go south to make sure she didn’t take sales from the other stores.

“It’s going to be a really good opportunity for the south part of Wichita, and a great opportunity to expand Avon,” Watkins says.

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Bluebird Arthouse art supply store and studio to open in former Kellogg-Buck Furniture space in Delano

UPDATED — During her pursuit of a master’s degree in fine arts — she graduated from Wichita State University in May — Emily Brookover discovered a business opportunity.

So now she’s going to open Bluebird Arthouse in the former Kellogg-Buck Furniture space at 914 W. Douglas in Delano to sell art supplies and offer an outlet for artists.

“We have a real need for it here,” Brookover says.

When she was in school, she says, “There was no place to go for materials or support or a place to ask questions.”

There are three components to Brookover’s business.

First, the store is an art materials retailer.

“That will be our number one priority,” Brookover says.

She says local craft stores offer only student-grade supplies.

“We’re going to be carrying brands and lines that you can’t get at Michaels and Hobby Lobby.”

Among lines she plans to carry are Golden for acrylic paint and Gamblin for oil paint.

Brookover will offer supplies for a range of disciplines, including drawing, sculpture, ceramics and print-making.

She’ll also rent studio space for artists, and she’ll offer classes and demonstrations.

“I’m not just an art supplier,” Brookover says. “I want to be a place for artists to come and mingle and talk and be inspired.”

She plans to offer classes that aren’t currently available here.

“I’m not interested in competing with our amazing art centers here in town.”

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Rowley Snyder Ablah moves agency office downtown

WICHITA — Despite extensive east-side searches for a new office, Rowley Snyder Ablah has moved downtown to former Big Dog Motorcycle space at 145 N. Hydraulic.

“I’ve got to tell you, we’ve looked at almost everything on the east side,” Bruce Rowley says.

When he opened the agency late last year, it temporarily was located in the Terra-Cotta Tower at 29th North and Rock Road. Rowley liked the amenities on the east side.

“I finally got dragged by my leasing agent down to this building that he wanted to show me,” Rowley says of Classic Real Estate’s Craig Ablah, who is agency partner Jeff Ablah’s cousin.

Rowley likes the openness of the 3,000-square-foot space, but he particularly likes the area around the building.

“You know there’s something happening down here,” he says. “This is kind of a vibrant little area with lots of cool stuff going on.”

He’s impressed with what Chris Ruffin has done with the nearby Sunburst Plaza at 1725 on East Douglas, which is where Tanya’s Soup Kitchen will soon reopen.

Tanya’s and the Donut Whole across the street helped seal the deal.

Rowley says his office has already done taste tests to determine favorite doughnuts.

“I thought that maple bacon was going to be winning, but Neapolitan appears to be quite a hit, and the one with Fruity Pebbles on it.”

Rowley says he knows his 12-person agency isn’t going to have a huge impact on the area, but he hopes his “little, tiny presence” adds to the movement there.

Sit @ Thai Bistro owner to open a second restaurant near Central and Oliver

WICHITA — Sit @ Thai Bistro owner Nikki Phumsawarng is opening a second restaurant.

Phumsawarng opened her first Wichita restaurant in 2009 on 21st St. near Ridge Road.

Her new restaurant will be in the former Taco Shop space on Central near Oliver.

Phumsawarng says she’s still working on the concept, and the name, but it will be Thai food in a modern decor.

Since there’s a drive-through at the building, she’s considering names like Sit @ Thai Express or Sit @ Thai To Go.

The restaurant will be able to seat about 25 for lunch and dinner.

Phumsawarng also is adding a small patio.

Don Ablah of Classic Real Estate handled the deal.

Phumsawarng was inspired to open the new restaurant in part by all the people who travel from the east side to her current restaurant.

Many times, she says, she’s been told, “Hey, you have to open on the east side.”

Phumsawarng also was surprised people would drive across town to eat her food. She thinks that support will help her new venture be successful.

“It should be a good one.”

Palmers Grill to open in former Fritz Co. Grille space near K-96 and Webb Road

WICHITA — The investors who recently purchased the former Fritz Co. Grille space near K-96 and Webb Road have a tenant for the space.

Trey Dower, who has a long history as an Old Chicago manager for several locations, is opening Palmers Grill where Fritz used to be.

“It’s pretty much ready to go,” he says of the space.

He’s painted quite a bit, but he’s not doing too much else right now.

“It’s like buying an older house. When you start tearing into things, you find more than you want,” Dower says. “We’re really going to kind of live with it before we make further changes.”

The restaurant will serve burgers, sandwiches, steaks, pasta and salad.

Dower is calling it Palmers after “an old family name on my wife’s side.”

Picking a name “was probably the hardest part. It was kind of nuts.”

Picking a location was easier.

“I always liked the building,,” Dower says. “It’s unique for restaurants anymore.”

Don Ablah of Classic Real Estate handled the deal.

Dower likes the layout of the former Fritz space and the two private dining rooms, which seat 40 and 12.

The main dining room seats 100, and the bar seats 50. There are another 32 seats on a patio and a deck.

New neighbor Menards is another factor in Dower’s decision to locate there, as is the road that connects that stretch of businesses to the businesses near Golf Warehouse.

“It was a dead end road before the Menards was built,” Dower says.

Look for the restaurant to open around the end of February.

Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance to open in former David’s Bridal space at Eastgate Plaza

WICHITA — There’s another new lease at Eastgate Plaza at Kellogg and Rock, which makes the center 95 percent full.

Illinois-based discount beauty retailer and salon Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance is taking the former David’s Bridal space.

The bridal store moved from its 10,400-square-foot space to a new 6,400-square-foot space within the center next to Plato’s Closet.

Ulta started in 1990. The idea behind the store is a combination of a large beauty warehouse with specialty store attributes.

Ulta has more than 500 brands and about 21,000 products.

Andy Boyd of Walter Morris Cos. and Christian Ablah of Classic Real Estate handled the deal.

Look for an early summer opening.

Former Fritz Co. Grille space sells

WICHITA — There’s more happening near K-96 and Webb Road than just the new Menards.

Investors also have purchased the former Fritz Co. Grille space, which has been empty since the restaurant closed in May 2007.

“They’re working with a prospect,” says Don Ablah of Classic Real Estate, who handled the deal for the buyers.

The prospect is another restaurant.

“That’s what we’re hoping for,” Ablah says.

When Fritz closed after less than two years in business, a real estate broker said he expected a new business would open there not long after the Menards deal closed.

Then, deals fell through for the Wisconsin-based home improvement chain to bring two stores to Wichita.

This year, the deals were back on, and Menards is under construction near K-96 and Webb and 37th North and Maize Road.

“We’re just thrilled that the bank was willing to hang in there during this time while Menards was under construction,” says Brad Saville of Landmark Commercial Real Estate.

He handled the deal for First State Bank & Trust, which owned the Fritz building.

In 2008, the building was appraised at $1.78 million. In 2009, that was reduced to $1.1 million after the building sat empty.

“I just really feel like they got a great value,” Saville says of the buyers. “I feel like their timing is perfect with Menards opening in the next 60 to 90 days.”

We’ll keep you posted on a possible new tenant and the Menards opening date.