Historic Lahn Building to undergo renovations for apartments and retail

lahnUPDATED — The Lahn Building, which is newly on the Register of Historic Kansas Places, is about to undergo a renovation and be home to a retail shop and apartments once again.

“It’s going to be a really cool historic renovation,” says Sean Brennan, who owns the building with his wife, Chantelle.

The building, which is at 2208 E. Douglas just west of Grove and across from East High School, was built in 1922 by Latvian Jewish immigrants Eli Lahn and his son-in-law David Krashim.

It has been home to all kinds of businesses through the years, including restaurants, confectioneries, a women’s clothing store and a barbershop.

“It’s kind of an interesting story,” Brennan says. Lahn’s “family owned the building for decades.”

It was nominated to the historic register for its significance in local commerce.

“That block has been ignored for a long time,” Brennan says.

“The building has six apartments on the second floor that have been abandoned for a long time,” he says. “We are completely redoing those.”

The Brennans also are renovating the first floor, which once was home to three storefronts that eventually combined into two. Now, the Brennans will create a single space for Danielle Davis to move her Flying Pig Gift Boutique.

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Domestic Laundry building selling again

FILE  The Domestic Laundry building at 1425 E. Douglas. (Sept. 18, 2012)UPDATED — The Domestic Laundry building is so popular, it’s selling for the second time in less than two years.

“Yes . . . surprisingly enough,” says Transitions Group owner Bill Jackson. “Someone else wants it worse than we do.”

Jackson and six employees bought the building at 1425 E. Douglas just east of Old Town in September 2012.

“We never had any intent of buying it to sell it,” Jackson says. “We love the building and love the community along there.”

Jackson says he understands the buyer wants the building’s first floor space fronting Douglas for a showroom and then will use third floor space for offices.

It looks like Joe Hayes is buying the building for his Open Road Brands business, which creates reproductions of nostalgic signs and other Americana memorabilia.

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Victor Court partially returns to apartments

UPDATED — More than three decades after their conversion, some of the vintage Victor Court apartments are returning to their roots.

“In 1935, it was built as a … 12-unit apartment complex,” Leon Moeder says of the building at 140 N. Hydraulic.

“It’s just an iconic structure in Wichita,” he says. “Everyone’s driven by it.”

It was converted to office space in the early 1980s. Moeder, his wife, Susan, and Raleigh and Rhandalee Hinman purchased it in March.

“We’ve converted six of the units back into four apartments,” Leon Moeder says. “They deserve to go back to the cool apartments they were.”

They’ve combined a couple of the spaces to make bigger apartments. There will be an open house there from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The other spaces will remain offices, though they still need to be renovated.

“We’re going to finish this thing yet – someday,” Moeder says.

He says part of the attraction of remodeling the building is the central space, which he calls the core of the building, was empty. The remodeling could proceed without disruption.

“That falls into what we’ve been doing over here in the neighborhood,” Moeder says of refurbishing buildings.

The Moeders bought their first building in that area 15 years ago at 122 S. Hydraulic for their Stor-All business.

“We started because the property was cheap,” Leon Moeder says.

The Moeders just purchased their sixth building, a warehouse and office space at 156 S. Greenwood, on Saturday.

“We got very, very lucky with the first tenant we picked up,” Moeder says, referring to the Donut Whole. The Moeders also own that building with the Hinmans along with a duplex.

The Donut Whole “pretty much set the tone for most of what’s happened in the area,” Moeder says.

Douglas Avenue was part of the attraction, and now the Douglas Design District that’s grown around it is appealing, too.

“That’s a big deal to us,” Moeder says. “It’s nice to have an identifier overlay.”

What he’d really like is a name specifically for the buildings in the Douglas and Hydraulic area, though.

“We’ve tried that,” Moeder says. He says he hasn’t had any luck finding a name yet.

“Someone creative should come up with one.”


New 3D-XEnergy to move into Domestic Design Building

WICHITA — Some new energy is coming to the Domestic Design Building in the Douglas Design District.

The new 3D-XEnergy, an oil and gas exploration company, is taking 2,578 square feet in the 1915 building at 1425 E. Douglas.

“They’re doing a lot of renovation, and a lot of kind of creative companies are in it now,” says partner Andy Kemmer.

Kemmer had been involved with another company, Vanguard Petroleum, before forming this LLC in March.

Geologist Monica Williams is a colleague in 3D-XEnergy.

The unusual name is a reference to the firm’s use of three-dimensional seismic technology in exploration.

Craig Ablah of Classic Real Estate and Marty Gilchrist and Randy Johnston of J.P. Weigand & Sons handled the deal for the space.

Brent Dorrah of neighboring ACI Design Studio is redesigning the space, which should be ready by early September at the latest.

Kemmer says he’s been in the oil business for more than 35 years.

“We all tend to put partnerships together with other oil guys,” he says.

Kemmer says he likes the idea of being with creative companies in the building, such as ACI, Greteman Group and the Workroom. He calls it a “comfortable” surrounding.

“It’s good people.”

GLMV Architecture lays off about a dozen employees in second round of layoffs

WICHITA — For the second time in less than a year, GLMV Architecture has laid off employees.

In August, the cutbacks affected a half dozen employees. This time, it’s about a dozen. Some employees also will now be working reduced hours.

“Nobody saw this coming,” says one laid-off worker. “Everybody’s so shocked.”

Neither Chairman Bill Livingston nor CEO Jeff Van Sickle returned calls for comment.

Sources say that in some ways, the company seems to have had more work lately. The issue may be that some of GLMV’s clients have had difficult first quarters.

The layoffs affected GLMV’s Wichita, Kansas City and Houston offices.

In January 2010, Gossen Livingston merged with McCluggage Van Sickle and Perry. In 2012, GLMV moved into a prominent new home in the Douglas Design District at 1525 E. Douglas.

The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce recently awarded GLMV the Keeper of the Plains award during its annual Honors Night for the firm’s work restoring the 30,000-square-foot 1930 building that originally was home to J. Arch Butts’ Packard dealership.

“If you have two of the longest firms in Wichita merge (and) they just won an award for a building, and now you’re laying off another round … it doesn’t add up,” one former employee says.

“That plus the last round is a pretty big hit.”

Bill Jackson and six employees purchase Domestic Laundry building on Douglas

Bill Jackson, one of the new owners of the Domestic Laundry building, says of this vintage photo of the building and all its delivery trucks, "Yep, the laundry business must have been very good back then. I guess there probably wasn't a washer and dryer in every home or maybe not even in hotels."

WICHITA — Wichita’s well-known Domestic Laundry building at 1425 E. Douglas has a new owner.

“We’ve all loved that building for a long time,” says Bill Jackson, Transitions Group owner, of himself and six employees who bought the building.

Jackson has been leasing space in the building for his ACI Design Studio for the last couple of years.

“A group of my employees who have been with me for a long time — some of them up to 25 years — and myself formed a little LLC and bought it.”

DL 1425, which stands for Domestic Laundry and the building’s address, includes Karen Cundiff, whom Jackson describes as an instrumental player in the Douglas Design District; Brent Dorrah, who runs ACI; Barney Lehnherr; Brendan Hogan; and Jackson’s children Piper Ayala and Josh Jackson.

Bill Jackson says they’d hoped to have another name for their LLC, but “every interesting, fun name was taken.”

Jackson says the Domestic Laundry building is a key piece of Douglas and his group will do what it can to improve its stature.

“That part of East Douglas was always known for its neon signage,” he says.

He points to GLMV Architecture’s prominent new sign just down the street and says his group would like to do something similar.

Jackson says he has pictures of the “cool signage” from the building’s early history and may use that for inspiration.

“We were thinking about maybe looking into the possibility of maybe redesigning the sign that’s up there now.”

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GLMV Architecture has layoffs

WICHITA — GLMV Architecture laid off employees and asked one to retire this week.

Neither Chairman Bill Livingston nor CEO Jeff Van Sickle returned calls for comment.

Sources says five employees were laid off and one longtime employee was asked to retire.

In January 2010, Gossen Livingston merged with McCluggage Van Sickle and Perry. Earlier this year, GLMV moved into a prominent new home in the Douglas Design District at 1525 E. Douglas.

It looks like the layoffs may have been due to declining work in some sectors the company serves.


Logan St. Fine Wood Products to open showroom in Douglas Design District

WICHITA — About five years ago, businessman Herb Krumsick sat down his friend Tony Ferraro for a talk.

Ferraro is a contractor – his business is Ferraro’s – who started his career more than two decades earlier as a finish carpenter and cabinet maker.

“It was an interesting conversation,” Ferraro says. Krumsick pointed out that “everything I was doing was building for other people. I really wasn’t creating my own thing.”

Three months later, Ferraro stopped into a millworking shop in Belle Plaine where he lives, and the owner said everything he had was for sale.

“Next thing I know, I bought the millwork company,” Ferraro says. “It really was on a whim.”

Now, Ferraro is going a step further and opening Logan St. Fine Wood Products in Wichita to sell the high-end wood products he creates. That includes furniture, cabinets, doors, floors and staircases, among other things.

“Anything you put in a house with wood, that’s us,” Ferraro says.

The store, which opens Monday, is at 1824 E. Douglas just down from the American Red Cross Midway-Kansas Chapter. It’ll be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and by appointment on Saturdays.

Ferraro hopes to attract homeowners, designers and builders.

“It’s going to allow us to build more pieces and actually generate more work for Ferraro’s,” he says. “We can sell the product, and Ferraro’s can install it.”

Customers can buy off the showroom floor or custom order what they want.

“I tried to model it after somebody, but I couldn’t find anybody doing the same thing,” Ferraro says.

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GLMV Architecture buys new downtown office on East Douglas

The former Packard building on East Douglas where GLMV Architecture is moving its headquarters.

The former Packard building on East Douglas where GLMV Architecture is moving its headquarters.

WICHITA — The almost year-old GLMV Architecture is getting a new home that will accommodate all of its Wichita employees.

Since Gossen Livingston Associates and McCluggage Van Sickle & Perry merged early this year, employees have remained at their original offices while there was a search for a space big enough to hold 100 people. (There are another 30 employees in Kansas City and Houston offices.)

The new space is a 30,000-square-foot building at 1525 E. Douglas.

McCormick Armstrong sold GLMV the building that it’s been using for storage and a tenant, Sign Pro, which will have to move.

The 1930 two-story building originally was home to J. Arch ButtsPackard dealership.

“It’s a significant building in Wichita and in the Douglas Design District, which is . . . kind of fun to be part of now,” says GLMV chairman Bill Livingston.

“The building has a lot of rich history.”

GLMV is working to put the building on the National Register of Historic Places, which will allow some tax credits.

So who out of a huge firm of architects handles the design of company headquarters?

“Well, we establish a team and handle it just like any project in the office,” Livingston says.

“I don’t know what it’s going to look like.”

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Three businesses to open: Red Nest Interiors, Three Pea: Organize, Stage, Design and Pea Pod Consignment Gallery

WICHITA — The end of Three Pea Interiors means the beginning of a couple of new businesses and the expansion of a third.

Jolene Holdaway closed her Three Pea shop late last year and is preparing to open Red Nest Interiors in the former Esprit de Fleur space at 2907 E. Douglas early next month.

“I absolutely had to have more room,” Holdaway says of showroom and storage space.

She had been sharing space with Three Pea Staging and Design in the former Crandall’s Interiors furniture space on East Second Street.

Owners Gary Streepy and Kirsten Awe were wanting to expand their business as well.

Monty Stuber, whose Montage salon also is in the Esprit building, offered Holdaway some storage space that eventually turned into a lease agreement.

Holdaway thought making a complete split from the Three Pea name would be less confusing for customers.

Also, she’s changing her business slightly by incorporating some older pieces into her showroom.

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