Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services signs new downtown lease

WICHITA — Another state agency has signed a lease at 266 N. Main St., which is known as the former Ryan International Airlines building, and this will be the final one because the building is now full.

“The building represented the chance to put some agencies together under one roof,” says Mark McGivern, director of the Office of Facilities and Procurement Management within the state Department of Administration.

“It made sense from our end.”

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services will join the Kansas Corporation Commission, the Kansas Department of Labor and the state Board of Indigents’ Defense Services.

The Department on Aging has a 10-year lease for 5,666 square feet on the second floor. It’s slated to move in the first of September.

Currently, the department is in the Finney State Office Building at 230 E. William.

In June, Have You Heard? reported that nine state agencies, including more than 700 employees, will leave the city-owned building when the state’s lease expires on Sept. 30.

“The Wichita office market was quite attractive,” McGivern says.

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Kansas Corporation Commission signs lease at former Ryan building

072413ryanUPDATED — There’s another new lease at the former Ryan International Airlines building at 266 N. Main St., and it happens to be another state agency.

“We’re slowly filling it up with state leases,” says Craig Simon of Landmark Commercial Real Estate, who handled the lease.

“The most recent one that got signed and approved was the Kansas Corporation Commission,” Simon says.

The commission is taking 17,267 square feet on the second floor.

Currently, the commission is in the Finney State Office Building at 230 E. William.

In June, Have You Heard? reported that nine state agencies, including more than 700 employees, will leave the city-owned building when the state’s lease expires on Sept. 30, 2014.

The Kansas Department of Labor, which is temporarily in the Finney building, signed a lease for the former Ryan building in September.

The state Board of Indigents’ Defense Services, which has been at 150 N. Main, signed a lease in the former Ryan building in October.

“There’s one more,” Simon says of state agency leases, “and we’re waiting to get the lease signed.”

That likely will be in the next week or two, he says.

“And then the entire building will be full once that’s complete.”

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C.J. Owens to start Summit Employment

WICHITA — After a number of years working for others in the staffing and human resource field, C.J. Owens is now starting his own employment agency.

Summit Employment will open in the new year in almost 800 square feet at the southwest corner of Third and Waco.

Craig Simon of Landmark Commercial Real Estate handled the deal.

Most recently, Owens has been human resource director for Mill-Tel.

“I miss the aspect of helping people,” he says of being on the other side of the business. Owens says he wants to help workers with temporary and permanent placements.

“That’s really kind of what I’m wanting to get back into, and that’s really kind of the drive behind this.”

Owens says he likes helping people at each step of their job searches, from creating resumes to coaching on interviewing.

“It’s just that whole process that’s very enjoyable for me.”

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Board of Indigents’ Defense Services signs new downtown lease near courthouse

WICHITA — As expected, the state Board of Indigents’ Defense Services is moving ahead with a lease at 266 N. Main.

The office currently is at 150 N. Main.

“It’s a lot closer to the courthouse,” director Patricia Scalia says of the new space. She says that’s “a big plus for us because as public defenders, our attorneys are back and forth to the courthouse morning and afternoon.”

Scalia says the extra block and a half closer “might not sound like a lot, but on a winter morning, that feels like a lot.”

The agency’s existing lease is up in June. The current office is 1,640 square feet with 820 square feet of storage and free common areas as well.

The new lease is for 3,222 square feet along with additional common areas for which the agency will have to pay.

Craig Simon of Landmark Commercial Real Estate handled the deal.

The Kansas Corporation Commission and the Kansas Human Rights Commission are expected to signs leases in the same building as well. Look for that news next month.

Three state agencies close to signing new downtown leases despite city’s objections

The former Ryan International Airlines building.

UPDATED — Three state agencies, including two that currently are in the Finney State Office Building, are close to finalizing leases for the former Ryan International Airlines building at 266 N. Main.

The Joint Committee on State Building Construction will consider leases for the Kansas Corporation Commission and the Kansas Human Rights Commission next month and the state Board of Indigents’ Defense Services on Wednesday.

“To my great surprise and chagrin, this committee has no authority to stop this process other than the bully pulpit,” says state Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, a new member of the committee. “We can raise questions about the appropriateness of the move … and hopefully shame them into doing the right thing.”

Ward says the reasons the state has offered for why nine agencies need to leave the Finney building, a city-owned property at 230 E. William, “don’t seem to hold water compared to the bid given by the city.”

He’s referring to a new lease rate the city is offering to the state to keep the Department for Children and Families at the Finney building. DCF has more than 550 of the 700 state employees at the building.

According to a Sept. 9 letter Mayor Carl Brewer sent to Gov. Sam Brownback, the city would slash DCF’s lease rate from $11 a square foot to $6 a square foot for half the space it currently has. The reduced space is at DCF’s request, according to the letter. The city also offered to make a $6 million investment in improvements in the building.

“It is my hope, as mayor of Wichita, that the valuable relationship between the City and State can be preserved by a responsible business decision allowing the continued use of the Finney State Office Building as a centralized location for state agencies,” Brewer wrote.

Chuck Knapp, spokesman for the state Department of Administration, says it’s a “foregone conclusion” that DCF and the Kansas Corporation Commission will be leaving, because the Finney building does not meet their needs.

“Someone could offer you a cardboard box for free, and if it didn’t meet your housing needs, you … wouldn’t accept it,” Knapp says. “I’m certainly not saying the Finney building is a cardboard box. … Price isn’t necessarily the determining factor in the deal.”

In his letter, Brewer referenced a July meeting he had with Brownback after which a new conversation started with DCF about how the city could meet the department’s needs.

“However, despite our best efforts, we encountered obstacles that prevented a full evaluation of our counterproposal,” he wrote.

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Kansas Department of Labor to move to former Ryan International Airlines building

WICHITA — The Kansas Department of Labor, which is temporarily located at the Finney State Office Building, has signed a lease at the former Ryan International Airlines building at 266 N. Main St.

“They looked at several buildings,” says Chuck Knapp, Department of Administration spokesman. “Labor decided that that building best met their needs.”

The 10-year lease, which has two renewal options of five years each, is for 9,113 square feet.

Level 3 Communications and Hubris Communications are already at the building. Level 3 is downsizing its space, and that’s what the Department of Labor is taking.

Knapp says the department had been in another downtown building but was having some issues, so it made a quick move to the Finney building.

Craig Simon of Landmark Commercial Real Estate handled the deal for the Main Street lease, which begins Nov. 1.

Simon also recently handled the sale of that building when Tom Schmeidler of SBA Construction, his brothers and another investor purchased the property out of foreclosure.

More news is coming about the building soon.

There’s also news coming about another departure from the Finney building.

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Alzheimer’s Association buys Wichita Festivals building — again

WICHITA — With a lease for new office space, Wichita Festivals is a step closer to its goal of one day being “right front and center” with downtown property. That is freeing the group’s current space for the Alzheimer’s Association to buy it, which is a familiar situation.

When the Alzheimer’s Association bought its current building at 347 S. Laura in 1998, it purchased it from Wichita Festivals.

In fact, when the association recently took its sign down to prepare it for its new space, the former Wichita Festivals sign became visible again.

Now, Wichita Festivals is moving from 1820 E. Douglas to 444 E. William.

“We’re trying to figure out what the right long-term home is,” says president and CEO Mary Beth Jarvis.

She says the group wants to continue to collaborate with people who are working on developing the core of downtown, and the closer the organization is physically, “the more we’re able to be relevant and helpful.”

The new office, where Jarvis expects to be for a couple of years, will be where the city’s career development office used to be.

“So we’re 14 blocks closer to downtown,” Jarvis says.

The Alzheimer’s Association first began talking to Wichita Festivals about its space a couple of years ago.

“They had had kind of a standing offer on the building,” Jarvis says. “We knew it wasn’t our best long-term home.”

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Former Ryan International Airlines and Southwestern Bell building sells downtown

WICHITA — It’s not every day that a bunker sells downtown, but that’s what Craig Simon says happened today.

The former Ryan International Airlines building at 266 N. Main St., which was built for Southwestern Bell in the late 1960s, sold.

“It’s a very unique building,” says Simon, a broker with Landmark Commercial Real Estate who handled the sale. “It’s like a bunker.”

The approximately 54,000-square-foot building has 14-inch walls and can withstand 200-mile-an-hour winds. Though it’s only two stories, it is built to hold six.

“If there’s a storm, there’s no breakage in coverage,” Simon says.

He says it’s a data company’s dream, and there are two such companies – Level 3 Communications and Hubris Communications – in there now.

A contractor and some other investors are the ones who bought it, though.

Tom Schmeidler of SBA Construction, his brothers and another investor purchased the property out of foreclosure.

“It has potential to become a very, very good building again,” Schmeidler says. “It’s in the best part of downtown that you could hope for for an office building.”

When Rubloff Jet Express purchased Ryan in 2004, it acquired the building.

“They’re not usually in the business of buying office buildings,” Simon says.

Rubloff hired Simon about two years ago to help lease the building. Simon says he was close to signing the Department of Defense and the Small Business Administration last summer when Rubloff, which owns a number of shopping centers, encountered financial difficulties.

“They were struggling with a lot of properties,” Simon says.

Though the building had gone into receivership and Simon wasn’t able to lease to new tenants, he was able to help sell the building.

Complicating the deal was an IRB that Ryan had through the city. It was set to expire next year. The city still had a deed on the building as collateral but agreed to retire the IRB early.

Simon will continue handling leasing at the building, and Landmark will manage it as well.

“There’s a lot of interest right now,” Simon says of about four serious prospects.

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Twotrees Technologies is the first tenant in the new Firestone Place

Brad Saville of Landmark Commercial Real Estate in front of the new Firestone Place.

UPDATED — The former Automobilia space at the northeast corner of First and Emporia is getting a new life along with some new tenants.

“It’s kind of something we’ve been looking at for a long time because we’ve got a vested interest in our property across the street,” says Brad Saville, president and CEO of Landmark Commercial Real Estate.

The Landmark office is across the street on the southeast corner. Saville, Landmark broker Scott Harper and another partner formed 2point LLC to redevelop the former Automobilia space. They’re calling it Firestone Place.

Saville thinks the original occupant of the building was a Firestone tire dealership. He’s still trying to learn more about it.

“I’m really interested in the history of it.”

SBA Construction and Innovative Construction Service are remodeling the 8,271-square-foot space. Features include exposed brick, open ceilings and easy-access parking.

There’s room for three tenants in the building. Harper and Landmark’s Craig Simon are handling the deals.

One, Susie and Jim Smith’s Twotrees Technologies, is signed.

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History Education Store to move to Reed’s Cove Plaza and change name to Bizzy Bee Education Supplies

WICHITA — The History Education Store is expanding with a new store and a new name.

Cheryl Riley’s store currently is in 1,200 square feet at 1719 N. Rock Road behind Havertys. It’s moving to 1,400 square feet with an option to expand next door for a total of 2,800 square feet at Reed’s Cove Plaza near 21st Street North and 127th Street East.

“Basically, it’s going to be a better location,” Riley says. “We’re going to be more visible.”

The store’s new name will be Bizzy Bee Education Supplies so it will be easier for potential customers to understand what the store is.

“People don’t know it’s supplies for parents and teachers,” Riley says. “It’s for anybody, really. Our customer base is really widespread. … It’ll be a better name to help identify ourselves.”

The History Education Store will be on the front of the store as well so current customers will know they can still get supplies there.

Riley formerly owned the Learning Tree in Andover, which closed in 2004. As she and her husband were cleaning out a shed several years ago, she found some replicas of documents, such as the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, that she used to sell at her store.

“Instead of throwing them away, we decided to go ahead … and put them on Amazon and see if they would actually sell. They started selling very well.”

That grew into a business, which Riley incorporated in 2010. She then opened a storefront in 2012.

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