Bruce Haase named Value Place CEO

bruceWICHITA — There’s a new CEO at Value Place, and founder Jack DeBoer calls him “a superstar.”

Bruce Haase spent a dozen years with Choice Hotels International, one of the world’s largest franchise organizations with brands such as Comfort Inn, Sleep Inn and Clarion.

“I think Value Place quite honestly is the best opportunity in hospitality right now,” Haase says.

He says it’s “a very uniquely positioned brand” with “tremendous growth opportunities.”

Haase started with Choice Hotels as treasurer and six months later was given the international division.

“It was actually quite troubled at that point.”

He says he spent a lot of time overseas making the division stronger.

“That’s really where I learned franchising,” Haase says.

He says during that time, he became more of a generalist instead of focusing strictly on numbers.

“It was quite a fascinating journey.”

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You don’t say

“I think the good news is that Jack is somebody with a good sense of humor.”

– The Wichita Independent Business Association’s Tim Witsman, who says the group was not trying to make a comment on Jack DeBoer’s abilities as its annual meeting speaker by calling him Jack DeBore on invitations

Dan Weber is out as Value Place CEO

WICHITA — Two and a half years after taking over at Value Place, Dan Weber is out as CEO.

“It really was Dan coming to the conclusion of the things he set out to do,” says Kyle Rogg, president and COO.

“He really came in with a lot of structured finance background with the goal of getting a lot of capital in the company and completing some big acquisitions,” Rogg says.

He says Weber and Value Place’s board decided it was time to move to “less of a financial-based CEO and more of a hotel-oriented CEO.”

“It was a joint decision,” Rogg says. He says Weber has “had such a dramatic and positive impact on the standing of the company. I just don’t want it to be perceived as anything other than that.”

Rogg says Weber negotiated the acquisition of Perry Capital minority interest in Value Place, which positioned the company to attract capital from a new partner.

That happened late last year when Value Place founder Jack DeBoer did a deal with New York-based private equity firm Lindsay Goldberg, which is investing more than $100 million in the chain of extended-stay properties and short-term apartments.

“Dan was very, very instrumental … given his background,” Rogg says.

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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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DeBoer says he was close to settling lawsuit with former employees, but now that’s off

WICHITA — Hotel developer Jack DeBoer says he was close to settling the lawsuit his Hotel at Old Town filed against two former employees who left for the Ambassador Hotel, but he says that’s now changed.

“They’ve made an offer to settle, and finally I was ready to do it,” DeBoer says of his former general manager Sheila Cole and former director of sales Amy Grossman, who now have the same positions at the Ambassador.

The lawsuit, which was filed in June, alleges breach of fiduciary duty, the destruction of evidence and the misappropriation of trade secrets, among other things.

DeBoer says Cole has now hired his head of housekeeping, front desk manager and one other employee.

“Sheila to do that, it’s unconscionable,” DeBoer says. “Hell, the lawsuit’s still out there.”

That’s why DeBoer says he changed his mind about settling.

“I said, ‘To hell with it. Let’s leave it out there.’ People don’t think.”

Terry Malone, the attorney who represents Cole and Grossman, says he wasn’t aware DeBoer was ever close to settling.

“As is typical of all lawsuits, there has been some … settlement negotiation and discussion,” he says. “I’ve had no indication that they’re close.”

Malone says he has been dealing with DeBoer’s attorney and not DeBoer, but he says what’s been suggested in negotiations is that everything should remain confidential. He says that’s how he’d like to keep it.

To say much more, he says, “Frankly, I think it would be inappropriate.”

Malone says he’s not sure about other employees Cole may have hired.

Regardless, he says Cole has done nothing “that is wrong or in violation of any law or contract.”

“I do not know why he would be angry,” Malone says of DeBoer. “People change jobs all of the time.”

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Hotel at Old Town sues two managers who left for positions at the Ambassador Hotel

UPDATED — The Hotel at Old Town has filed a lawsuit against former general manager Sheila Cole and former director of sales Amy Grossman, who now hold the same positions at the 6-month-old Ambassador Hotel.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed in Sedgwick County District Court on Tuesday, Cole faxed Jack DeBoer, the principal owner of the Hotel at Old Town, resignations for herself and Grossman on May 30. The suit says Cole offered Grossman a job at the Ambassador and that Cole faxed a note that Grossman “accepted the challenge of helping turn the hotel around.”

The suit alleges breach of fiduciary duty, the destruction of evidence and the misappropriation of trade secrets, among other things.

“I think I was treated very poorly,” DeBoer says. “I’m just protecting my asset. That’s what my attorneys counseled me to do to protect it. So that’s my story.”

Neither Cole nor Grossman returned calls for comment.

The suit alleges that prior to her resignation, “Cole accessed her office computer and deleted significant portions of the Microsoft Outlook ‘In Box,’ deleted her ‘Sent Box,’ deleted her Microsoft Outlook ‘Trash’ or ‘Recycle Bin,’ and ran a program called CCleaner to erase the evidence of the ‘link files’ showing Defendant Cole’s links to documents recently accessed by her. By running CCleaner, Cole also permanently erased the evidence of all temporary files and histories, the download history, and the evidence of what was downloaded to her Flash Drive and then erased from her computer and placed in the trash/recycle bin.”

DeBoer says he doesn’t want to comment further on the lawsuit.

“I want to stay out of it.”

The 82-year-old businessman has one thing to say, though.

“The only thing I can say is I’ve never sued anybody. How ’bout that?” DeBoer says. “I’m a lover, not a fighter.”

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Private equity firm invests $100 million in Jack DeBoer’s Value Place

UPDATED — How hard is it to get a $100 million investment in a company?

If you’re Jack DeBoer, apparently not that hard. At least it wasn’t in a recent deal with New York-based private equity firm Lindsay Goldberg LLC, which is going to invest $100 million in DeBoer’s Value Place chain of extended-stay properties and short-term apartments.

“It was sort of a …hit the bull’s-eye on the first shot,” says Value Place president and COO Kyle Rogg. “Jack knew somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody, and it worked out from the very first meeting.”

Extensive due diligence “became a contract, became a hundred million.”

“It was relatively fast and extraordinarily cordial,” Rogg says. “It was a little bit of love at first sight. … They like Jack’s vision and like the team.”

The infusion from Lindsay Goldberg, which manages $10 billion in total capital, will allow Value Place to expand more quickly than it otherwise would have.

“It’s going to allow us to do, really, three main things,” Rogg says.

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Landmark’s Craig Simon takes over WaterWalk commercial leasing

WICHITA — Craig Simon of Landmark Commercial Real Estate is now handling commercial leasing at WaterWalk Place near Main and Waterman in addition to a few other properties Jack DeBoer owns.

“He’s just really excited about what’s going on downtown,” WaterWalk’s Vanessa Johnson says of Simon. “He’s really interconnected.”

There are five suites left on the west side of the first floor of WaterWalk Place. They’re 1,485 square feet each, except for one smaller suite that is 1,025 square feet.

“Hopefully we’ll have an announcement here in another 30 days,” Simon says of a new tenant.

Current tenants are V Wealth Management, Pulaski Bank, Fabulous Salon and Gifts, Kelley, York & Associates and Brothers & Co.

“That was designed for retail,” Simon says of the ground floor beneath residential condos. “It’s better suited for office right now.”

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Doug Rupe leaves WaterWalk for Legend Senior Living

WICHITA — Doug Rupe no longer is WaterWalk’s executive vice president. He’s taken a new job with Legend Senior Living.

“Well, he just had a great opportunity to take over development,” says WaterWalk owner Jack DeBoer.

“You know, I never stand in the way,” he says. “It’s a big loss, but … he’ll be a great asset for them.”

DeBoer isn’t replacing Rupe – at least for now.

“We’re shuffling some people around a little bit,” he says. “We’re going to kind of see how it goes with the team we have.”

You don’t say

“Miss, can I help? What kind of car do you have?”

– Businessman Jack DeBoer, pretending he was part of the valet service during a party Saturday at the Ulrich Museum of Art