IRS opens in new space today

UPDATED — The IRS, which has been closed for the past two business days in order to move, is reopening in its new office today.

The IRS and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office will be sharing space at 555 N. Woodlawn. The ICE move is scheduled for Oct. 1.

The agencies are taking about 40,000 square feet there, and there’s another 23,000 square feet available to lease.

All federal agencies at the 271 Building downtown will by gone by September

WICHITA — By the end of August, all of the federal agencies in the 271 Building at 271 W. Third St. downtown will be gone.

Have You Heard? has written about several of the departures already. What follows is a complete list.

“This was originally an IRS lease at this building, but they returned some of the space, and then we backfilled it with other agencies … which is kind of why everyone is leaving at once,” says Angela Brees, a spokeswoman for the General Services Administration.

The IRS has about 33,000 square feet of the 95,000-square-foot building.

Typically, whenever a federal agency’s lease is up, there has to be a bidding process for new space.

The IRS office and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office are moving to 555 N. Woodlawn. They’re taking about 40,000 square feet there, and there’s another 23,000 square feet available to lease.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration office and the Health and Human Services Inspector General are moving to Phil Ruffin’s Bank of America Center at Broadway and Douglas.

The Small Business Administration is moving to the Page Court Building at the Garvey Center at 220 E. Douglas.

The Defense Contract Audit Agency and the Defense Contract Management Agency are moving to the Lux building at First and Market.

The Railroad Retirement Board has already moved to the Cambridge Office Park south of 21st and Webb Road, and the Citizenship and Immigration Services office has already moved to Ruffin’s building at 550 W. Douglas in Delano.

The status of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Defense Inspector General offices is still unclear.

All of the agencies need to be out of the 271 Building by the end of August when the lease is up.

“We’re still dealing with them on that,” says Trey Ayers, executive vice president of Guthrie, Okla.-based Dominion Properties, which owns the building.

Dominion is seeking new tenants outside of federal agencies.

“We like Wichita, and we like what it’s about,” Ayers says. “Hopefully we can help some other local folks move into the property.”

Ben Arnold behind on taxes but says it’s not nearly as much as the IRS claims he owes

WICHITA — After taking care of some tax trouble he had with Corporate Caterers of Wichita a few years back, Ben Arnold hoped to never be behind again. He is, though, and he’s as forthright as ever about it.

“I do owe taxes,” Arnold says. However, he says he doesn’t owe anywhere close to the approximately $250,000 the IRS says he owes.

“If I did, I would be in Mexico right now. That would just be an obnoxious amount you would have to owe for a period that covers 12 months.”

Arnold believes he owes only about a third of what the government says he owes. The issue, he says, is the IRS says it didn’t receive documentation from him.

“They assess a tax if they don’t have documentation in front of them,” he says.

Arnold says his accountant had sent proper documents and that he personally has now sent them a second time.

“That’s why I’m really, really frustrated.”

Arnold rapidly expanded his BLA Enterprises with catering at Comotara Center and two corporate cafes, Cafe 151 at Cargill and Cafe Intrust at Intrust Bank. He also owns AVI Seabar & Chophouse, which he opened late last year in the Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview.

“When I started this expansion, most of (the businesses) worked. A couple did not,” Arnold says. “We hit a very large pothole, and we’re filling it in.”

The largest pothole is AVI.

Arnold says in AVI’s first two months of business in 2011, it lost $75,000.

He says it was like “if you just popped a balloon, everything fell out.”

By August, Arnold says losses were down to $1,900.

He says September and October were profitable, and he believes AVI can be an almost $1 million-a-year business.

“We’ve grown to like it.”

Arnold says he now owes less than $16,000 on the business’ taxes.

He says another issue is the unprofitable banquet facilities he has in 9,000 square feet at Comotara.

“That’s one part of the business I’ve got to do something with. … I love my location, and I don’t want to leave it.”

Arnold says his catering is doing well and is on track to gross between $3.2 million and $3.3 million this year.

He says the cafes also “are extremely healthy.”

Arnold says it’s a “long, drawn-out process” getting tax discrepancies corrected, and while he’s frustrated, he’s not fazed despite the fact that he and his wife have used personal savings to cover some debt and have paid themselves almost nothing throughout the year.

“No one plans to fail,” Arnold says. “Any small business has struggles. You do what you’re supposed to do. … I don’t see this as a huge obstacle for me to overcome.”

SBA office to move to the Garvey Center using new streamlined design process

Wayne Bell, district director of the Small Business Administration.

WICHITA — The government is better known for red tape than streamlined processes, but the General Services Administration is working on that, and a change in offices for the Small Business Administration is going to offer something of a test case.

The SBA’s Wichita district office is moving from 271 W. Third St., where the IRS is, to the Page Court Building at the Garvey Center at 220 E. Douglas.

Before the move can happen, there has to be a design phase, which could determine everything from the tint of the windows to security systems in the new office.

“Normally, the process would take … 60 days or more,” says Wayne Bell, the SBA’s district director.

The GSA has a new design intent drawing process that will convene everyone involved in the move — contractors, designers, the SBA, the GSA, a representative for the landlord and anyone else connected with the project.

“You’re going to have all of the players in the room,” Bell says. “With this approach, everything should be complete within a three-day timeframe. It’s a really, really good idea.”

The old way of doing things involved sending drawings to the GSA, then the SBA, which would make changes before sending it back to the GSA. Then the contractor would get the drawings after a protracted period.

“So it could take months,” Bell says.

The design intent drawing creates a condensed timeframe where there’s an on-the-spot rough draft of the SBA’s needs that gets refined immediately with everyone present.

“This is very new,” Bell says. “So it’s going to be kind of an on-the-job learning process.”

The meetings will take place over a three-day period in late October at the Wichita Downtown Development Corp.’s design innovation center.

“What we try to do in that space is make resources available,” says WDDC president Jeff Fluhr.

That includes conference calling and video conferencing.

“We’re thrilled they’re willing to take the opportunity,” Fluhr says of the SBA and GSA. He says the attitude is “let’s walk through it and see what we learn from it.”

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IRS files tax lien against Del Friscos of New York

WICHITA — There was a federal tax lien filed in Wichita earlier this month for more than $56,000 against Del Friscos of New York, which is part of Lone Star Funds.

No one with the company will speak for attribution, but here’s apparently what happened:

The lien relates to late and misapplied payroll tax deposits from 2008.

Del Friscos has been working with the IRS and came to a resolution earlier this year which resulted in an agreement for the company to pay $11,000 to the IRS by January.

It looks like something related to the resolution may have caused the information about the lien to be reentered and refiled.

Last month, Have You Heard? reported that Lone Star Business Solutions, which is part of Dallas-based Lone Star Funds, is leaving Wichita next year.

It’s the last link to the group of restaurants that Wichita’s Jamie Coulter once owned.

World Poker Tour Amateur Poker League to move offices and open retail space

WICHITA — The World Poker Tour Amateur Poker League is moving its headquarters to Eastgate Plaza near Kellogg and Rock and opening its first retail space next door.

“We want it to be open before Black Friday,” president Kurt McPhail says of the World Poker Tour Store.

His group hosts poker tournaments in five countries.

“Because of our buying power, we get such great deals on our poker-playing supplies,” McPhail says. “We decided to pass that on to everybody.”

The store, which will be in about 750 square feet, will sell poker gear and custom poker tables. Customers also will be able to book poker cruises from there.

Most of what the store will sell will be the kind of supplies the company already is buying for league owners within its organization.

The company’s office, which currently is in 600 square feet at 144 N. Oliver, will be in 1,100 square feet at Eastgate.

McPhail says there will be a rewards discount club where members can pay $69 a year and have access to about 20,000 everyday products — not just poker supplies — at wholesale prices.

There will be kiosks at the store to purchase those products or customers can shop online at www.wptapl.com.

The World Poker Tour hosts 30,000 poker tournaments annually.

McPhail and his partners, who used to have the Highlands Gastropub and Cardroom on North Rock Road, are still appealing a ruling saying that their Kandu Challenge card game is illegal.

The group also is negotiating with the IRS on interest payments on more than $435,000 it paid in back taxes. McPhail expects it to be resolved by the end of the year.

“You know, things are getting better every day,” he says.

He likes Eastgate for exposure for the headquarters and the retail space.

“I don’t think many people knew we were still in Wichita.”