RSA Marketing Services to move to Commerce arts district

UPDATED — RSA Marketing Services is moving to a new downtown home, and CEO Bruce Rowley says there’s something special about it.

“Unbelievably, it is actually the very first development to face the arena – to directly face the front of the arena,” he says of Intrust Bank Arena. It’s “the very first building that you encounter when you pull into the Commerce arts district.”

Mike Snyder, left, and Bruce Rowley of RSA Marketing Services at the site of the agency's future home in the Commerce arts district.

Mike Snyder, left, and Bruce Rowley of RSA Marketing Services at the site of the agency’s future home in the Commerce arts district.

The 7,000-square-foot space is at the southeast corner of Waterman and Commerce.

“We want to be a part of pushing that growth down here and that development down here as it continues to unfold,” Rowley says. “I love that we could do our part to help spur that along.”

Don’t believe that it’s the first new development facing the arena?

“Go drive it,” Rowley says.

Big Rick’s, a barbecue sauce manufacturer, is in the building now and will remain in 2,000 square feet.

RSA will take more than 4,000 square feet.

“And then we’re carving out 900 square feet on the northwest corner of the building,” Rowley says.

“We really felt like that is such a great, high-visible corner,” he says of that 900 square feet. “The best use is really not to put our conference room there or something.”

A retail outlet or some kind of food establishment “will contribute to the vibrancy of that area,” Rowley says.

Currently, RSA is in 3,000 square feet at 145 N. Hydraulic, which is part of the former Big Dog Motorcycles campus. The 4-year-old agency has been there for three years and has owned the building for two years.

“The main constraint there … remains parking,” Rowley says.

There are 16 to 20 spaces “depending on how well everyone parks.”

“We typically run out of room.”

RSA will keep its current space as a photography and video studio.

At the new building, RSA will do a joint venture with current owner Trans Pacific Properties, which is affiliated with Trans Pacific Oil, and will completely renovate the space.

“It is literally a brick-and-concrete box at the moment,” Rowley says. “It’s a blank canvas.”

The building has only one door and no windows.

“We’re going to change substantially the exterior view of it,” Rowley says.

RSA currently has 24 employees and likely will have 27 by the time the agency moves late this year.

“It’s a significant increase in the amount of people down there and the ability of retail and all kinds of other businesses to grow down there,” Rowley says. “We’re certainly not the driver of that, but we want to be a driver.”

RSA’s new building originally was a patio furniture warehouse.

“We’ve been working for three years now in this former taxi garage and biker barn, which are two things that this building has been in the past, and we really thought that defined a lot of who we are,” he says. “We’ve tried to be a very efficient, open, collaborative kind of environment.”

Rowley says the idea has been to not have “ostentatious, over-the-top trappings.”

“We kind of still feel like we’re maintaining the culture that we have while expanding and growing as we do it.”

WSU student gets a ‘serious’ reaction for Florida Georgia Line video

WICHITA — Last summer, when Wichita State University student Jennifer Coen told her friends she was appearing in a music video, she says “everyone thought it was, like, pretty cool.”

Few people knew the band, though.

Now that band, Florida Georgia Line, has gone on to have a huge hit with that song, “Cruise,” and its video. The band is appearing tonight at Intrust Bank Arena, and Coen’s friends are now more than impressed that she was in the video.

“They’re just like, ‘Are you serious?’”

The senior marketing major has done some modeling with a Nashville agency, which is how she landed the video gig. She appears in a purple tank top in the video (the one that doesn’t bare a bellybutton).

Coen also interned for a Nashville record label and wants to be in marketing for the entertainment industry.

She isn’t looking for a career in music videos, though she did have a great time in the video, which included getting to throw colored corn starch around.

“It was really, really fun.”

She made her father proud, too.

Steve Coen, president and CEO at the Kansas Health Foundation, says the video was a great opportunity.

“You just want the best for your children and want them to experience … whatever they want to do while they’re young.”

Geek Shop to expand to new space near Intrust Bank Arena

Jason Gregg of the Geek Shop, who says he fixes most anything with batteries or that plugs in an outlet.

WICHITA — Rockers, athletes and partiers all hang out in and around Intrust Bank Arena, so why not geeks, too?

Jason Gregg is moving his Geek Shop from 1,500 square feet at 837 S. Poplar near Lincoln and Interstate 135 to almost 11,000 square feet at 214 S. Commerce just north of the arena.

“With the arena starting to stand on its feet now, the area could change,” Gregg says. “The area will change. … I see it right now as unrealized opportunities.”

He likes the growing residential component along with the increasing number of businesses. Gregg thinks his company could see a lot of new work from customers in the area who need technology repairs and support.

“Basically, we’re just a little bit of everything,” he says of what he offers.

In addition to repairing almost anything that takes batteries or plugs in an outlet, Gregg also plans a 1,000-square-foot gaming lounge in his new space and a 1,000-square-foot Internet cafe that also can be used for board games and card games.

“We’re really into gaming. We love technology,” Gregg says. He says he views it “as a passion, so this really isn’t just a job.”

The new repair area will grow by 400 percent, he says, and he expects to be able to handle about 50 repairs at once.

In the new store’s basement, Gregg says, he’ll be able to properly handle the disposal of chemicals and components from electronics.

“It has to be recycled responsibly,” he says. “We’re a green company. We like to reuse, repurpose. We like to utilize limited resources and be creative.”

Jameson Decker of Builders Inc. handled the deal for the space.

Gregg plans to move in early October, and he expects his new store to be a test of sorts by furthering research into technology, particularly as it relates to open-source applications, meaning any technology without a license. The idea, he says, is “people being able to share information as fast as light will travel.”

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Pacific Coast Pizza and Walkers Bar and Venue could open yet this summer

WICHITA — Construction is again under way at the future Pacific Coast Pizza and Walkers Bar and Venue near Intrust Bank Arena. They could open yet this summer or in early fall.

The businesses were supposed to open in March at 222 S. Commerce St. That’s at the south end of a series of buildings attached to the back of the former Spaghetti Works space, which is east of the arena.

There have been numerous challenges, although no one involved is discussing what those challenges are.

“Some of those have been able to be worked through on both sides,” says building owner Ryan Mills.

He says in the next week or two, he should have a better idea of when the businesses can open. He says the owners would like to time the openings to events at the arena.

First, though, he says, “There’s a lot to do.”

Financial and other challenges delay opening of Pacific Coast Pizza and Walkers Bar and Venue near Intrust Bank Arena

WICHITA — Pacific Coast Pizza and Walkers Bar and Venue were supposed to open next to Intrust Bank Arena in March, but they’re still not in business yet.

While construction and other delays are common when opening restaurants, there are more than typical delays happening here.

“Just some unforeseen events came up,” says building owner Ryan Mills.

He says the restaurants will still open at 222 S. Commerce St. That’s at the south end of a series of buildings attached to the back of the former Spaghetti Works space, which is east of the arena.

“The project … hit some hurdles that were in the road and caused us to kind of take a step back and regroup, and we encountered some challenges that we didn’t necessarily think were going to happen,” Mills says.

He won’t go into details, but he says there are issues on his end and with restaurateurs Aaron Moore and Rusty Law.

“I would say there’s been challenges on both sides that need to be worked out,” Mills says. “There’s some things … I’ve been working on for the past few weeks and anticipate in a very short period of time those things coming together.”

Some of the challenges are financial.

“We’re working through a couple of different options for how to fund the rest of the project,” Mills says.

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Wichita Habitat for Humanity moving to Inter-Faith Ministries building

WICHITA — Wichita Habitat for Humanity is getting a new habitat of its own.

The nonprofit is moving into the building that Inter-Faith Ministries owns at 829 N. Market.

“We’ll be in business there on July 1,” says Habitat executive director Ann Fox.

“We’ll have our own entrance,” she says.

Habitat’s address will be 130 E. Murdock since its entrance is on that street.

“That’s important to us that we have our own identity in that building,” Fox says.

She also likes that it’s close to residential areas.

“So it’s more comfortable and accessible for families that we serve.”

Currently, Habitat is at 420 E. English just east of Intrust Bank Arena. Habitat’s lease is up.

Fox says that building has been great, but she says, “As a conscientious not-for-profit, you always look for what is out there.”

The Inter-Faith lease is at a good price, Fox says.

“That becomes a nice benefit for us,” she says. “This is a very economic decision for us.”

At the new space, Habitat will have 2,200 square feet for its offices and another 2,200 square feet of common area that it will share with other tenants.

Carl Hebert of InSite Real Estate Group handled the deal.

“He is just incredible,” Fox says. She says Hebert “made our decision making easy.”

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You don’t say

“Hair and Botox are the two things that I haven’t been able to successfully transition to Tulsa.”

Sarah Haertl, formerly of Intrust Bank Arena, who now is director of marketing for Tulsa’s BOK Center and the Tulsa Convention Center but still returns to Wichita for salon services

Pacific Coast Pizza and Walkers Bar and Venue to open by arena in March

Aaron Moore (left) and Rusty Law, who are opening Walkers Bar and Venue and Pacific Coast Pizza near Intrust Bank Arena.

UPDATED — Before Intrust Bank Arena opened in 2010, there was a lot of buzz about how many bars and restaurants it would attract to that part of downtown.

That hasn’t happened, but two new venues are preparing to open in a month or so, and one more may follow this summer.

It’s been about a year since Have You Heard? first reported it, but Rusty Law is getting ready to open his second Pacific Coast Pizza at 222 S. Commerce St. That’s at the south end of a series of buildings attached to the back of the former Spaghetti Works space, which is east of the arena.

The 5,350-square-foot space was built in the 1980s. It will be adjacent to the 4,950-square-foot space to the north where Law’s longtime friend Aaron Moore is opening Walkers Bar and Venue. The 1908 building was a flour mill at one time.

Law and Moore hope to open both businesses in early March.

“I think what we’re going to … have is something Old Town does not necessarily have,” Moore says. “Location’s obviously key.”

He’s calling his business Walkers “because people seem to walk here.”

“It’s quite obvious when you come down here on event night that everybody’s walking,” Moore says. “When you watch the flow of traffic on event night, I can’t see why everybody wouldn’t want to stop in. I think we’ll capture a large audience just by being something fresh.”

Law says he plans to capitalize on Old Town revelers who may have had a few adult beverages by selling “a slice of pizza for them at 2 o’clock in the morning.”

He says the area will become a destination.

“Location wise it’s perfect for us being right next to the arena, right next to all the development in downtown,” Law says. “The customer count down here is going to be really good.”

He says Wichita Thunder hockey games bring in a potential 4,000 to 5,000 people, and concerts and other events can bring in as many as 12,000.

“It’s almost free advertisement being down here by the arena.”

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Sources: Occidental Management signs letter of intent to buy Union Station

WICHITA — After about five years of courtship with various suitors, it looks like Union Station finally may be engaged again.

Sources say Occidental Management has signed a letter of intent to buy the downtown property that Cox Communications owns and where it previously had its Kansas headquarters.

“We continue to have discussions with interested parties,” says Jay Allbaugh, Cox’s vice president of government and public affairs for the Cox Central Region.

Allbaugh won’t say anything further, and Occidental chairman and CEO Gary Oborny says he can’t comment on the situation.

Union Station and its 111,000-square-foot campus first went on the market in spring 2008, about a year after Cox left for bigger offices at 901 George Washington Blvd.

The list price for the former train station at 701 E. Douglas is $6.4 million.

Clay Center businessman Phil Frigon’s $5.5 million, 2009 deal to buy the campus to create a mixed-use development collapsed when he failed to reach an agreement for the city to lease parking from him for Intrust Bank Arena.

A mixed-use development that potentially would include retail, office and residential space and would help further revitalize downtown has been the top hope of potential uses for Union Station.

Oborny and Occidental have a history of converting older properties into new developments, most notably with the former Northrock 6 Theater at 32nd Street and North Rock Road. They converted the theater into an 80,000-square-foot, Class A office complex where Occidental now has its headquarters.

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Aerosmith appeared in Wichita but ‘Idol’ didn’t, despite what Steven Tyler says

WICHITA — Aerosmith front man and former “American Idol” judge Steven Tyler did an interview from Kansas City, Mo., today with the syndicated “Bobby Bones Show.”

“Do you travel so much that you forget where you are at times?” Bones asked.

“Absolutely, absolutely,” Tyler said before unintentionally going on to prove it.

“I was on the set the other night in … Wichita, Kansas,” Tyler said.

That part was true. Aerosmith played Intrust Bank Arena Sunday night.

“Just so happened ‘Idol’ was there,” Tyler said. He went on to explain that he called up his former “Idol” buddies Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest, who said they wanted to come to his show.

“Of course, I dragged them both out on stage, which was a hoot for me. That was my coup de grace, getting them both out on stage in my world and not on the set of ‘Idol’ was a grand finale for me.”

A grand finale it may have been, but it didn’t happen in Wichita. “Idol” was taping in Oklahoma City.

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