China Wok Express to open in former Taco Tico on North Broadway

WICHITA — A new Chinese restaurant is opening in the former Taco Tico space on North Broadway.

Hui Yang is opening China Wok Express at 929 N. Broadway sometime in January most likely.

An e-mail from Yang’s family says: “We’ll serve Chinese fast food, such as chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, vegetables and many others. . . . The concept is: more categories, more taste, and more health.”

The family says it chose that location because of its proximity to downtown, hospitals and hotels.

Don Piros of Landmark Commercial Real Estate handled the deal.

Yang has worked in Chinese restaurants for several years in the past, and the family says she “would like to have her own business to serve the community with Chinese cuisine.”

The e-mail adds, “Sure (she) also wants to make money.”

Vanderbilts to relocate to Cherry Creek Shopping Center at Harry and Rock Road

WICHITA — Vanderbilts, the western and work wear store, is moving its east-side store to make way for the expansion of Kellogg.

The store has been near the southwest corner of Kellogg and Webb Road for 11 years.

In late January, Vanderbilts will move to the former Hollywood Video space in the Cherry Creek Shopping Center at Harry and Rock Road.

Store manager Debi Adelhardt says Vanderbilts currently is in an approximately 7,000-square-foot building but uses only 5,000 square feet of it. The new store will be in 5,000 square feet as well.

Don Piros of Landmark Commercial Real Estate handled the deal.

Wamego resident Dave Vanderbilt opened his first Vanderbilts in 1973 and expanded to Wichita with a store in the Parklane Shopping Center at Lincoln and Oliver in 1985.

Company comptroller Mike Grothe now owns the Wichita stores, which includes one on the southwest corner of Kellogg and Tyler. There are eight Vanderbilts stores in Kansas and one in Missouri.

Adelhardt says Cherry Creek was attractive in part because of its size, the store’s location in front of the center and the amount of traffic that goes past it.

“It just seemed like a good fit.”

Ty’s Diner isn’t for sale, but its building is

WICHITA — There will be a for sale sign going up on Ty’s Diner this week, but real estate agent Scott Harper of Landmark Commercial Real Estate would like to eliminate the potential for panic right now.

It’s the building that’s for sale, not the popular longtime business at 928 W. Second.

“I anticipate a lot of calls,” Harper says.

“We’ll still be here, and nothing’s changing,” says Ty’s co-owner Kristin Hale.

She and her husband, David, worked at the business for four years before buying it in July 2012.

“We have such a passion for restaurants,” Kristin Hale says. “This was really like a dream come true for us.”

A dream that requires a lot of work, she says, adding that that’s OK.

“We’re not going anywhere.”

Lobby space available at Brittany Center

WICHITA — Now that Hobby Lobby has moved into its new space at the Regency Lakes shopping center at 21st and Greenwich, there’s a renewed push to find a tenant to take its former space.

Scott Harper of Landmark Commercial Real Estate has taken over trying to lease the 55,000-square-foot space that Hobby Lobby occupied at Brittany Center at 21st and Woodlawn.

“The ownership seems to be pretty open-minded to different scenarios there,” Harper says.

There’s some extra space adjacent to the building, which means the center could accommodate a tenant needing up to 75,000 square feet.

“The good news is there’s not really too many of those spaces left any longer,” Harper says of Wichita in general.

That compares to a few years ago when “there was quite a bit of availability in that size range.”

Harper says the owners are willing to divide the space as well. That includes making the north end of the building, which currently is all brick, into a storefront that faces 21st Street. He says there’s room for several smaller shops there.

“That’s even something they’re open to.”

Board of Indigents’ Defense Services signs new downtown lease near courthouse

WICHITA — As expected, the state Board of Indigents’ Defense Services is moving ahead with a lease at 266 N. Main.

The office currently is at 150 N. Main.

“It’s a lot closer to the courthouse,” director Patricia Scalia says of the new space. She says that’s “a big plus for us because as public defenders, our attorneys are back and forth to the courthouse morning and afternoon.”

Scalia says the extra block and a half closer “might not sound like a lot, but on a winter morning, that feels like a lot.”

The agency’s existing lease is up in June. The current office is 1,640 square feet with 820 square feet of storage and free common areas as well.

The new lease is for 3,222 square feet along with additional common areas for which the agency will have to pay.

Craig Simon of Landmark Commercial Real Estate handled the deal.

The Kansas Corporation Commission and the Kansas Human Rights Commission are expected to signs leases in the same building as well. Look for that news next month.

Three state agencies close to signing new downtown leases despite city’s objections

The former Ryan International Airlines building.

UPDATED — Three state agencies, including two that currently are in the Finney State Office Building, are close to finalizing leases for the former Ryan International Airlines building at 266 N. Main.

The Joint Committee on State Building Construction will consider leases for the Kansas Corporation Commission and the Kansas Human Rights Commission next month and the state Board of Indigents’ Defense Services on Wednesday.

“To my great surprise and chagrin, this committee has no authority to stop this process other than the bully pulpit,” says state Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, a new member of the committee. “We can raise questions about the appropriateness of the move … and hopefully shame them into doing the right thing.”

Ward says the reasons the state has offered for why nine agencies need to leave the Finney building, a city-owned property at 230 E. William, “don’t seem to hold water compared to the bid given by the city.”

He’s referring to a new lease rate the city is offering to the state to keep the Department for Children and Families at the Finney building. DCF has more than 550 of the 700 state employees at the building.

According to a Sept. 9 letter Mayor Carl Brewer sent to Gov. Sam Brownback, the city would slash DCF’s lease rate from $11 a square foot to $6 a square foot for half the space it currently has. The reduced space is at DCF’s request, according to the letter. The city also offered to make a $6 million investment in improvements in the building.

“It is my hope, as mayor of Wichita, that the valuable relationship between the City and State can be preserved by a responsible business decision allowing the continued use of the Finney State Office Building as a centralized location for state agencies,” Brewer wrote.

Chuck Knapp, spokesman for the state Department of Administration, says it’s a “foregone conclusion” that DCF and the Kansas Corporation Commission will be leaving, because the Finney building does not meet their needs.

“Someone could offer you a cardboard box for free, and if it didn’t meet your housing needs, you … wouldn’t accept it,” Knapp says. “I’m certainly not saying the Finney building is a cardboard box. … Price isn’t necessarily the determining factor in the deal.”

In his letter, Brewer referenced a July meeting he had with Brownback after which a new conversation started with DCF about how the city could meet the department’s needs.

“However, despite our best efforts, we encountered obstacles that prevented a full evaluation of our counterproposal,” he wrote.

Read More »

Au Paris-Bruxelles French and Belgian restaurant to open at Clifton Square after all

WICHITA — The deal for a French and Belgian restaurant to open at Clifton Square appeared to be off, but it’s going to go forward after all.

“It did drag out, but it’s never been officially off,” says Ted Branson, a broker with Landmark Commercial Real Estate.

Flo and Didier Fraikin had won a lottery for a green card to come to the United States, and after considering a home in Colorado and Wyoming, they chose Wichita.

“It sounds like they’re enamored with the West,” Branson says. Flo Fraikin “says it’s been her lifelong dream to come to America.”

“So they just jumped on it,” Branson says. “I’m not sure they thought it all through. … It was a little bigger than they anticipated.”

The family of seven plus three pets flew to San Francisco and planned a tour through the West to get to Wichita by June. Car trouble led to financial trouble which led to the family being stuck in California.

“They’ve just been hunkered down there trying to survive,” Branson says. “We’re just been pushing for them to get here. We’ll figure it out when they get here.”

The family is due to arrive Friday.

Branson says he’s “taking on a new job for a week” trying to help the family in advance of their arrival. A temporary house is his first order of business.

Read More »

Northwestern Mutual RPS Financial Group to move to Hartman Oil Building

WICHITA — Northwestern Mutual RPS Financial Group is moving from its current space near Murdock and Waco to new space at the Hartman Oil Building at 10500 E. Berkeley Square Parkway.

In a news release, managing director Sean Miller said he likes the upscale surroundings and ongoing development near the Hartman building and says the move will position the office to add new employees.

The company, which has 18 financial representatives and their staff members, hopes to add 35 representatives and interns in the next 15 months.

Nationwide, Northwestern Mutual has more than 7,000 financial representatives and hopes to add 5,500 more.

Brad Saville of Landmark Commercial Real Estate handled the deal for the space. Shelden Architecture is the architect, and Icon Structures is the contractor.

Northwestern Mutual will move into its more than 9,100 square feet in December.

Kansas Department of Labor to move to former Ryan International Airlines building

WICHITA — The Kansas Department of Labor, which is temporarily located at the Finney State Office Building, has signed a lease at the former Ryan International Airlines building at 266 N. Main St.

“They looked at several buildings,” says Chuck Knapp, Department of Administration spokesman. “Labor decided that that building best met their needs.”

The 10-year lease, which has two renewal options of five years each, is for 9,113 square feet.

Level 3 Communications and Hubris Communications are already at the building. Level 3 is downsizing its space, and that’s what the Department of Labor is taking.

Knapp says the department had been in another downtown building but was having some issues, so it made a quick move to the Finney building.

Craig Simon of Landmark Commercial Real Estate handled the deal for the Main Street lease, which begins Nov. 1.

Simon also recently handled the sale of that building when Tom Schmeidler of SBA Construction, his brothers and another investor purchased the property out of foreclosure.

More news is coming about the building soon.

There’s also news coming about another departure from the Finney building.

Read More »

Alzheimer’s Association buys Wichita Festivals building — again

WICHITA — With a lease for new office space, Wichita Festivals is a step closer to its goal of one day being “right front and center” with downtown property. That is freeing the group’s current space for the Alzheimer’s Association to buy it, which is a familiar situation.

When the Alzheimer’s Association bought its current building at 347 S. Laura in 1998, it purchased it from Wichita Festivals.

In fact, when the association recently took its sign down to prepare it for its new space, the former Wichita Festivals sign became visible again.

Now, Wichita Festivals is moving from 1820 E. Douglas to 444 E. William.

“We’re trying to figure out what the right long-term home is,” says president and CEO Mary Beth Jarvis.

She says the group wants to continue to collaborate with people who are working on developing the core of downtown, and the closer the organization is physically, “the more we’re able to be relevant and helpful.”

The new office, where Jarvis expects to be for a couple of years, will be where the city’s career development office used to be.

“So we’re 14 blocks closer to downtown,” Jarvis says.

The Alzheimer’s Association first began talking to Wichita Festivals about its space a couple of years ago.

“They had had kind of a standing offer on the building,” Jarvis says. “We knew it wasn’t our best long-term home.”

Read More »