Firehouse Subs is first tenant at new strip center at NewMarket Square

WICHITA — Slawson Cos. is preparing to start building a strip center in front of the SuperTarget at NewMarket Square later this month and has landed its first tenant for it: Firehouse Subs.

“We acquired from Target an outparcel basically in front of their NewMarket Square store that’ll be just north of the Intrust Bank … branch bank,” says Slawson’s Jerry Jones.

Firehouse Subs will be in 2,000 square feet on the north end of the 10,000-square-foot center.

Jones says two other potential deals for the center are in advance stages of negotiation. If they happen, that would leave 2,800 square feet to lease to a tenant or 1,400 square feet each for two tenants.

Firehouse Subs franchisees Dana and Troy Todd would like to do five of the restaurants in the greater Wichita area. Franchisees Megan and Andrew Reece opened Wichita’s first Firehouse late last year at Eastgate Plaza at Kellogg and Rock Road.

Dana Todd says NewMarket Square is a great place to open Firehouse.

“It’s a well-established area, and it seems to be continuing to grow.”

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Subaru of Wichita responds to ‘Shame on Subaru’ sign with one of its own

suburuWICHITA — Labor dispute signs have been popping up at all kinds of businesses and nonprofits in the last couple of years, but Subaru of Wichita appears to be the first business to fight back.

“To be accused of desecrating the American way of life, we’re going to take a little bit of exception to that,” says Aaron Wirtz, who handles marketing and media for Subaru.

Earlier this week, the United Brotherhood Of Carpenters And Joiners Of America Local 201 began a protest in front of the dealership, which is on East Kellogg between Greenwich and 127th Street.

Subaru is in the process of a $1.5 million update to transform the property to the Subaru brand from the previous Suzuki brand that was there.

Wirtz says in addition to hiring a local architect on the project, Subaru hired Wichita’s Key Construction as its contractor. He says Key then hired Hi-Tech Interiors, a local nonunion firm, to do a small portion of drywall work.

In response, the Carpenters union now has people manning a “Shame on Subaru of Wichita” sign on an easement in front of the dealership.

“While we’re certainly not happy to see that, we were kind of unsurprised,” Wirtz says.

In response, Subaru now has a sign that plays off the “Shame” by saying, “For having unbeatable prices.” It also says “indisputable” in a couple of places on the sign.

Wirtz says Subaru respects the union’s right to protest.

“We’ve actually given them lunch. We’ve invited them to visit our facilities.”

Wirtz says he’s convinced the people with the sign are simply hired by the union to stand there.

“It doesn’t really look like they want to be here anymore than we want them to be here, to be quite frank.”

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Pat Ayars, co-founder of Oxford Senior Living, dies of complications from cancer

Pat Ayars

Pat Ayars

WICHITA — Longtime Wichita businessman Pat Ayars died Wednesday morning following complications from cancer.

“He was an eternal optimist, so regardless of how awful he might have felt, he put a smile on his face,” said Coryanne Graham, marketing and brand manager at Oxford Senior Living, which Ayars co-founded in 2010.

“This is something that Pat has been dealing with for a number of months and had no reason to believe it wasn’t going to come to a good conclusion,” Graham said.

“He’d say … ‘I’m going to get better. We’re going to do this. We’re going to do that.’”

Ayars, who would have turned 56 on Friday, was Oxford’s president.

“In recent months, Pat had positioned the company to transition his responsibilities so that his vision for Oxford would continue long after he was gone,” chief operating officer Jason Wiley said in a statement.

“He ensured this company would never hinge on just one person, but no one could ever fill his shoes fully. Pat was a tremendous motivator and visionary.”

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Great Plains Ventures and J. Van Sickle & Co. ready to kick off new mixed-use development with 208-unit apartments

Jason Van Sickle, Susayn Brandes and Marque Peer are ready to break ground on the first phase of a new 60-acre development at Ventures Business Park.

WICHITA — Great Plains Ventures president Susayn Brandes likes to joke that her need for a soda and a tank of gas is spurring a new 60-acre development at K-96 and Oliver.

“I really just wanted a QuikTrip on Oliver so I could get a Diet Coke and some gas,” she says.

What she’s actually getting is a whole lot more.

Brandes and her brother, Greats Plains Ventures vice president of development Marque Peer, and developer Jason Van Sickle and his J. Van Sickle & Co. are partnering for a multiuse development on the northeast corner of the intersection that will include apartments, a hotel, office and retail. They first announced the project a year ago but now are about to break ground.

Great Plains Ventures is the holding company for three manufacturing firms, two of which are at Ventures Business Park on the northeast corner of K-96 and Oliver.

Brandes and Peer’s father, the late Charlie Peer, purchased what was then an 80-acre property more than three decades ago to give his company room to grow. Over the years, the company sold off some lots but decided against selling more.

“It just seemed to me that we wanted to be in more control of how this developed out,” Brandes says.

She met Van Sickle at a board meeting and talked to him about doing a study of the best uses for the property.

Van Sickle then presented her with a plan that started with apartments.

“Initially, I was kind of like, ‘Really?’” Brandes says. Then she says “it really started making sense to me.”

Construction is set to start Sept. 3 with an upscale 208-unit apartment complex.

“We wanted to create more 24-hour population density out there,” Van Sickle says.

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Property owners file lawsuit against Casey Bachrodt claiming mismanagement and breach of fiduciary responsibility

WICHITA — Various entities, all partially owned by Summit Holdings LLC, have filed a lawsuit in Sedgwick County District Court against developer Casey Bachrodt.

Summit’s five shareholders also own Key Construction.

The suit claims Bachrodt mismanaged six properties in which he also was an owner.

“We feel like he didn’t fulfill his fiduciary responsibility,” says John Walker, Summit administrator and member.

Bachrodt didn’t return calls for comment.

The relationship between Bachrodt and Summit goes back at least a decade.

Starting in October, Summit began removing Bachrodt from managing its properties, including two strip centers in Andover, one in Emporia, one in Texas and two office buildings on and near Rock Road in Wichita.

Walker says Bachrodt didn’t market the properties properly or do a good job keeping tenants or being responsive to them.

“It’s been an ongoing problem, and we weren’t able to control it and get all the details we needed until we took (the properties) over,” Walker says.

Builders Inc. now manages the properties, which Walker says “has been a very good move for us.”

 

 

Dondlinger and Sons disputes bid process for $100 million airport contract

UPDATED — The scheduled start of construction on a new terminal at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport is months behind because the bid process for the contract, worth around $100 million, is in dispute.

Dondlinger and Sons is the lowest bidder, but the contract may be awarded to Key Construction instead because the city doesn’t think Dondlinger met the requirements for building the terminal.

The planned two-level, 273,000-square-foot terminal – which will feature 12 gates, each with a passenger loading bridge, more efficient passenger and baggage security screening, baggage claim and airline ticketing systems – initially was projected to be done in late 2014 or 2015. Due to the dispute, that’s likely to be pushed back.

“We’ve given the city a couple of ways to get out of this mess, and whether they’ll take it or not, we don’t know,” said Jim Armstrong, one of the Foulston Siefkin attorneys working on behalf of Dondlinger and Hunt Construction Group of Indianapolis.

That’s the team that built Intrust Bank Arena.

It bid $99,370,542 for the airport contract.

Key, in partnership with Detroit-based contractor Walbridge, bid $101,500,542.

The Wichita City Council, which will make the final decision on the contract, was updated on the dispute during an executive session Tuesday.

“This is a monstrous decision,” City Council member Pete Meitzner said. “It affects the next 50 years of the terminal and our city.”

He added: “It is a decision that I am not taking lightly. … It just needs to be fair and the right decision.”

Because the terminal will be funded in part through federal grants – airport passenger facility charges and airport revenue will make up the rest – certain requirements must be met in the bids. That includes the stipulation that either 7.11 percent of the contracting business be shared with disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE), such as minority-owned firms, or that the bidders show that they made a good-faith effort to reach that percentage.

That’s what’s at issue in the bidding process. Dondlinger has filed a bid protest, which follows an earlier review of the DBE requirement and a motion to reconsider, both requested by Dondlinger.

“We are firmly convinced that we did more than enough, and frankly that decision-making process is pretty subjective,” Armstrong said.

In response to a request for comment, city attorney Gary Rebenstorf issued a statement that said: “That protest is under review according to the City’s purchasing policy. The review process is confidential. When the review is completed, the outcome will help determine what happens next.”

No one with Key Construction is commenting, but Armstrong said that at the time of the initial bid, neither Key nor Dondlinger reached the 7.11 percent.

Armstrong said the city found that Key made a good-faith effort while Dondlinger did not.

“We don’t know how they made that determination,” Armstrong said. “From what we have been able to determine, we don’t think that’s a correct decision.”

Armstrong said when Dondlinger made its bid, two of its DBE contractors hadn’t yet been certified by the Kansas Department of Transportation, but they have now. He said that puts Dondlinger over the 7.11 percent.

“We’re just at a loss to explain why this has happened, to be honest with you,” Armstrong said, “because Dondlinger has been involved with the minority business community for years and has always actively participated.”

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Sleep Number mattress store to join Vitamin Shoppe at 21st and Rock Road retail center

WICHITA — Laham Development has got your number.

The company is bringing a Sleep Number mattress store to the retail center where it has already announced a Vitamin Shoppe will open on the northeast corner of 21st and Rock Road.

Sleep Number is relocating its store from Towne East Square.

“Our plan was to improve the aesthetics and the activity at the intersection,” says Cathy Erickson, vice president of Laham Development, which is the developer of Bradley Fair on the southeast corner of the intersection.

“We obviously have quite a large interest in that intersection and want to make it better.”

The center is 6,200 square feet. Vitamin Shoppe will take about 3,000 square feet, and Sleep Number will take the rest. Shelden Architecture is the architect and Key Construction is the contractor.

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You don’t say

“I’d be better off at work.”

Key Construction CFO John Walker, who says he’s working harder on “vacation” this week at home taking care of his six children than if he were at the office

Lane Bryant is the latest retailer coming to NewMarket Square at 21st and Maize Road

WICHITA — Lane Bryant is the latest retail shop coming to the newest phase of NewMarket Square at 21st and Maize Road.

The store is one of several — Pier 1 Imports, Kirkland’s, Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance, the Children’s Place, Rue 21 and Christopher & Banks — that will locate in the two buildings that form an L shape between Petco and Michaels.

That’s also near where the new Best Buy is at the Slawson Cos. property.

“We were talking to most of these tenants when we were dealing with Best Buy and Michaels,” says Slawson’s Jerry Jones. “Then we had the 2008 financial crisis that just put all these deals on the back burner.”

He and broker April Reed, who handled the Lane Bryant deal among others, kept talking to the companies.

Though the deals took longer to put together than planned, Jones says it’s still a win to get the businesses — especially without a full market recovery.

“We were able to do it in a time where it was challenging to put deals together,” he says.

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Eddy’s Toyota of Wichita plans new 60,000-square-foot building

Courtesy of GLMV Architecture

WICHITA — Brandon Steven and second cousin Mike Steven have started construction this week on a new 60,000-square-foot building to replace two existing buildings at Eddy’s Toyota of Wichita.

“This new building is going to be awesome,” Brandon Steven says.

This is the fourth store he’s built for dealerships here.

“It’s amazing how much you learn every time you build a new building.”

Steven says he took extensive notes while building the other buildings.

“So this building has about 10 years of notes of stuff that I would have done differently,” he says. “I’m excited to have what I’ll call my perfect building.”

There is an existing Eddy’s building and an old Chrysler building on East Kellogg that Steven has been using for a total of 31,000 square feet.

Those will come down in eight or nine months when Key Construction finishes the new building.

“Key’s been really, really good to work with,” Steven says. “They’re going to go fast, and I need speed here.”

He had to move 200 cars to a storage lot on Tuesday.

“We’re going to have a huge sale, probably the end of this month, to get rid of some of this inventory.”

GLMV Architecture is the architect on the project.

“They just have been so patient with me,” Steven says. “I don’t hear the word ‘can’t’ very well.”

Since becoming operating partner two years ago, Steven has more than doubled the number of technicians at the dealership and increased the number of assistant service managers from three to nine.

Part of the reason he needs more technicians now than ever is Toyota’s complimentary maintenance program for new cars.

Through Toyota Auto Care, customers receive services such as oil changes and tire rotations for two years after purchasing new vehicles. They have to have the work done at the dealership where they buy their vehicles.

“Our business is getting ready to just take a rocket ship,” Steven says.

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