Van Sickle debuts new apartment model, plans $700 million in development

Jason Van Sickle and his in-house architect, Renae Slusser, at the Chisholm Lake Apartments.

Jason Van Sickle and his in-house architect, Renae Slusser, at the Chisholm Lake Apartments.

WICHITA — Developer Jason Van Sickle is moving ahead with plans for more apartment communities now that his $20 million Chisholm Lake Apartments at K-96 and Oliver has opened, but his new apartments won’t be what he originally planned.

“My plan was to take that model – nicer, upscale apartments – and do them in other cities,” Van Sickle says. He says he “was successful at getting about a dozen projects in our pipeline.”

He was considering markets such as Tulsa and Kansas City.

“But I saw in these markets there was a flood of people coming in to do apartments,” he says.

As he started studying economic development, Van Sickle says he discovered a new opportunity.

“I realized small towns have a huge and desperate need … for housing, especially apartments,” Van Sickle says. “We’ve got nine cities where we’re really making a push.”

In Newton, Valley Center, Derby, Haysville, Rose Hill and Wellington, he’s working with landowners and is proceeding with financing and rezoning.

“We’re also working with the cities of Hutchinson, Bel Aire and El Dorado right now to do some site selection work.”

Van Sickle considered about 200 towns around the state then narrowed his list to 50.

“I just started picking up the phone and calling,” he says of city managers and others.

He now predicts that in the next five years, he and a variety of partners will do $700 million in apartment development in smaller communities.

“They desperately could benefit from our model,” Van Sickle says.

He says his model is different than other small-town apartment models.

“Low-income housing is what’s been built,” he says. “In the real estate development world, that’s been the game. … I didn’t want to do low-income housing,”

He says his J. Van Sickle & Co. – which a year ago was a one-man shop and now has 11 employees – spent a year and a quarter million dollars to develop a workable prototype for high-quality, market-rate apartments.

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Jason-Paul Febres to open second Taste & See in part of former Doc Howard’s space

UPDATED – Jason-Paul Febres is heading back to Old Town.

“Now I’m moving back to my roots,” says the man who became known as Sabor Latin Bar & Grille’s first executive chef.

The Venezuela native is returning to Old Town with his own place — a second Taste & See.

“Well, first of all, it’s about time,” Febres says. “I don’t think it was a matter of if we were going to expand. It was a matter of when we were going to expand.”

Febres is taking 4,532 square feet at 252 N. Mosley, which is part of the space developer Dave Burk is converting at the former Doc Howard’s Lounge building.

“I love Old Town,” Febres says. “I like the crowded scene. That’s what I’m made for.”

Febres bounced around to various restaurants before opening Taste & See with a partner at Office This in the former Wichita Mall. Febres says he plans to keep that site, which will be open for lunch, classes and private events. It will be known as Taste & See The Venue.

The new Taste & See will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Febres is planning a “very, very upscale tapas lounge” and “a beautiful patio.”

He’s also working on a new menu.

“It’s going to be a little more out there, and it’s going to be more fun,” Febres says. “I’m going to have the chance to play with more food than I was able to.”

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Old Town loses Whiskey Creek Wood Fire Grill and Imbiss Grille, gains Todd Brians Brick Street Cafe & Tavern

UPDATED — There are a few restaurant changes in Old Town, including the departure of a longtime Wichita restaurant.

After more than a decade in business, Whiskey Creek Wood Fire Grill has closed.

“It was a difficult decision,” says Heidi Johnson, franchise administrator for the Nebraska-based company.

The restaurant’s lease was up at 233 N. Mosley.

“After four years of economic woes in this country, we just didn’t think it was the right time to renew our lease in that location,” Johnson says.

An entertainment district such as Old Town isn’t a typical development where the chain prefers to locate, she says.

“We kind of build on the interstate.”

That’s an option for down the road, though probably not anytime soon, Johnson says.

Old Town developer Dave Burk is working on a possible new tenant.

“I think I’m close,” he says.

Imbiss Grille, a German restaurant that was on the west side of Old Town Square, also has closed.

The owner didn’t return numerous calls in November and December regarding the possible closure.

A new restaurant, Todd Brians Brick Street Cafe & Tavern, is opening in its place.

“It’s something I’ve been working on my whole career,” says owner Chris Tincher.

He’s so far spent his career working for others. Tincher spent the bulk of his time with Amarillo Grill but also worked for P.F. Chang’s, Piztros and Ted’s Montana Grill.

He’s naming his restaurant after his brother, who died three years ago.

“It’s just in his memory,” Tincher says. “There will be some featured dishes that were some of his favorite.”

Tincher calls his restaurant an American cafe, which will have dishes such as crawfish etouffee, taco plates and cheeseburgers.

He thinks Old Town Square is an ideal location.

“The downtown business district has really grown nicely over the last five years,” Tincher says. “I personally enjoy going down there and seeing movies and having dinner.”

He plans to open in early February. Tincher isn’t nervous about finally doing his own venture.

“I’m on a high about it right now. I really am.”

 

 

You don’t say

“It did take longer than I thought. Twenty years, that’s a long time.”

— Developer Dave Burk on how long it’s taken to develop the still-growing Old Town, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this week

54 new plaques give Old Town visitors a glimpse of history

plaque2WICHITA — Old Town is obviously one of Wichita’s most historic areas. Now, some of that history is readily available for people to learn as they visit the area.

Developer Dave Burk this month placed 54 plaques on buildings throughout Old Town. He finished a couple of days ago and has already seen visitors stopping to look.

“This was research that we put together when we compiled all the information to get this into a National Historic District,” Burk says.

That was back in 1990.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a long time,” Burk says.

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Player Piano auction attracts worldwide attention

pianoWICHITA — Antique dealers, hobbyists and business people from around the world are descending on Old Town this weekend to bid on the contents of the five-story (plus a basement) Player Piano Co. building at 704 E. Douglas.

Dave Burk recently purchased the building, and Dennis Wilke bought the contents.

“There’s more stuff in this building than probably every other building in Old Town combined,” Wilke says. “Pack rat doesn’t even begin (to describe it).”

There are 150 player pianos — most if not all of which don’t work — but also thousands of parts for the pianos along with rolls and rolls of player piano music.

“You just can’t believe it,” Wilke says.

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