Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas to move to New Leaf Plaza

UPDATED — The Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas is turning over a New Leaf, so to speak, and moving to the shopping center of the same name at 21st and Amidon.

“It is very accessible and very visible for the public,” says Keith Lawing, president and CEO of the agency that connects workers with employers.

“I really think it’s going to be a perfect location for their new home, although some would have liked for it to stay downtown, I suppose,” says City Council member Jeff Longwell.

“They are at least for a little bit going to keep some of the administration stuff down in the Garvey building,” he says.

The Workforce Alliance had been at the former Commerce Bank building at First and Main downtown and had to scramble to find new space along with other tenants there when building issues, such as a broken elevator and suspended gas service, forced them to go elsewhere.

A site a few blocks down from First and Washington is where the Workforce Alliance temporarily is until the new space is ready.

Lawing says parking had become an issue where the Workforce Alliance was at First and Main.

“We definitely looked downtown,” he says seeking new space. “If we could have found a place that would have been adjacent to a parking garage … it would have been great.”

He says no such place could be found.

Longwell says that initially the Workforce Alliance will take about 26,000 square feet at New Leaf, which is on the southwest corner of the intersection and is home to a Walmart Neighborhood Market.

He says it “is going to be a really nice space.”

“It’s a good location, easily accessible, on a bus route,” Longwell says. “I really like that whole area. It’s kind of coming back a little bit.”

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Construction begins on one A-OK Center, second one to follow with more after that

WICHITA — Construction started this week at Bruce Harris’ new A-OK Center at New Leaf Plaza at 21st and Amidon, but that’s hardly the only new thing the pawn shop owner has going on.

“Wichita’s economy is starting to come back,” he says. “This shopping center in the middle of town is going to come alive again.”

The former Marina Lakes is now home to a Walmart Neighborhood Market that Harris says is contributing to those “sparks of life coming along.”

Harris also is about to begin building a new center at 410 N. West St.

It’ll be about 19,000 square feet, and the center at New Leaf will be 25,000 square feet.

“It’s going to be a huge place,” Harris says.

His centers at Harry and Oliver and Harry and Broadway are 18,000 square feet each.

The New Leaf center will be the “same thing on steroids.”

“What we’re doing is changing the way people shop,” Harris says. “We have new, used and lease to own.”

Both new centers and his store at Harry and Oliver will have a Better Living shop, which is Harris’ new lease-to-own concept.

New Leaf and West Street also each will have an A-OK Pawn Shop, One Day Jewelry and Repair, Cricket and A-OK Financial Services, which offers check cashing, payday loans, title loans and tax services.

Harris says the New Leaf center will be the most elaborate.

“I’m going to try to make it a lot of fun,” he says. “It’ll be kind of like Cabela’s.”

What he means is he plans a lot of displays and unusual touches that will “make it a really neat retail atmosphere that you’ve never seen in the pawn industry.”

There will be a dramatic 30-foot ceiling at the entrance of the center where Harris hopes to have something fun, such as a small plane or part of a helicopter hanging.

“We’re going to try to work with the Wichita motif.”

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Mattress Firm to open at New Leaf Plaza

WICHITA — Mattress Firm, which just opened a new store near Central and I-235, is opening another new store on the west side. This one will go in the former Hollywood Video space at New Leaf Plaza, the shopping center at 21st and Amidon that used to be known as Marina Lakes. This will make the chain’s seventh Wichita store.

“If you look at the map of Wichita, we’ve got most of the shopping areas covered,” says franchisee Emmanuel Giannas, who has two partners in the business.

Giannas says the time is right to go to that area.

“That was once a very much highly shopped area,” he says.

With the addition of the Walmart Neighborhood Market at New Leaf, Giannas expects it to be a popular area once again.

“It’s going to bring back a lot of shopping to the area.”

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Two Wichita Learning Connection centers to open to help former students get diplomas

WICHITA — The South Central Kansas Education Service Center is opening two new sites in Wichita.

“What we do is we try to provide … cost-effective ways to provide education services to school districts,” says executive director Brad Pepper.

The south-central branch, which is based in Clearwater, serves 28 school districts and is one of seven education service centers in Kansas.

The center provides services such as integrating technology in classrooms, helping further professional development and arranging for reduced-rate equipment.

“Basically, if there’s a need that a school district has, we’ll provide that service,” Pepper says.

“They’re school districts without students,” is how he describes the centers.

At least that’s generally the case.

The two new Wichita sites will be part of a network of Wichita Learning Connection centers around the state that offer degree completion programs.

Pepper says the center partners with local school districts to help former students age 18 and older receive their high school diplomas.

“It’s an actual high school diploma,” Pepper says. He says that can carry more weight in the career world than a GED.

“We’re kind of targeting the Hispanic population,” Pepper says.

He says there’s a higher drop-out rate in that community, though Wichita Learning Connection is open to anyone.

One site will be in 1,550 square feet in New Leaf Plaza, formerly the Marina Lakes shopping center, at 21st and Amidon.

The other will be in 2,200 square feet at Parklane Shopping Center at Lincoln and Oliver.

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A-OK Pawn Shop owner Bruce Harris to develop new center on West Street

WICHITA — A-OK Pawn Shop owner Bruce Harris bought and recently tore down a couple of houses near his store at 410 N. West St. with new plans for development there.

“I’m putting in a new shopping center there,” Harris says.

He’s moving his One Day Jewelry & Repair, Cricket store and a financial-services store from Maple and West to the pawn shop’s address. He’ll have additional space to do leases as well.

“I’m just now getting started on it, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do,” Harris says.

He says he knows what the result will be, though.

“We’re beautifying … Wichita, and we’ll have a nice new center to go with the new street.”

Look for more information on Harris’ plans there in the coming weeks.

He’s also still working on centers at Harry and Broadway and at New Leaf Plaza, which was formerly Marina Lakes, at 21st and Amidon.

Harris says financing three new centers at the same time is a challenge.

“I’m trying to work out how to get that done.”

Planet Fitness signs two new deals

WICHITA — There are deals for two new Wichita Planet Fitness sites, though the chain still isn’t talking about its plans here.

Have You Heard? previously reported that the company is working on locations in the former Star Lumber space at Normandie Center at Central and Woodlawn, at Marina Lakes at 21st and Amidon where a new Walmart Neighborhood Market is and also at the 21st and Maize area.

Since then, Scott Harper of Landmark Commercial Real Estate and Grant Tidemann of J.P. Weigand & Sons finalized a deal for the Marina Lakes space.

On Friday, Tidemann and Landmark’s Nick Esterline finalized a deal for the former bowling alley space at 2350 N. Maize Road. That’s where Countryside West Lanes closed in 2007.

It looks like there may already be demo work going on at the possible Planet Fitness space at Normandie.

Planet Fitness isn’t the only new gym coming to the city.

Gold’s Gym International also has been working on sites here. In fact, it appears it was negotiating for some of the same space Planet Fitness nabbed.

Earlier this year, Have You Heard? reported that a Gold’s deal at Harry and Rock may already be done.

Both companies are being similarly silent. We should hear something from them soon, though.

 

Planet Fitness coming to Wichita with at least three gyms

WICHITA — Gold’s Gym International isn’t the only new fitness chain coming to Wichita.

Planet Fitness is finalizing deals for three locations as well.

In fact, the two chains have been jockeying for some of the same spaces.

No one with Planet Fitness is talking just yet, but it looks like the company is working on locations in the former Star Lumber space at Normandie Center at Central and Woodlawn, at Marina Lakes at 21st and Amidon where a new Walmart Neighborhood Market is and also at the 21st and Maize area.

The website for Planet Fitness describes its gyms as fairly basic.

“We don’t have any salespeople, and we don’t bother with all the extras like juice bars and childcare that drive up costs and can make a gym membership seem more like a car payment.”

Look for more news on the deals in the coming weeks.

 

Jimmy’s Egg near 21st and Amidon closes; location near Office This to open soon

WICHITA — It turns out the new Jimmy’s Egg that’s going in front of Max Cole’s Office This development at 4031 E. Harry will replace the one just west of 21st and Amidon.

That Jimmy’s Egg is now closed.

Owner Wink Hartman Sr. says his management team “is going to take action to correct businesses that are not performing.”

“The concept is that we’re growing and reallocating our assets to more profitable areas and stores,” he says.

Hartman didn’t want to wait for the new Walmart Neighborhood Market to open at Marina Lakes on the southwest corner of the intersection and hope that his business increased.

“You cannot continually develop and plan your future around a Walmart,” Hartman says. “Yes, they drive traffic, but we have a breakfast concept, and it doesn’t really tie into being around a Walmart.”

The Jimmy’s Egg by Office This will open within 45 days.

Hartman has one more planned by the end of the year.

He’s close to a lease on the west side of College Hill and could have the restaurant open by Thanksgiving.

Look for more news on it soon.

Planned Walmart Neighborhood Market likely will attract new tenants at Marina Lakes

WICHITA — Several observant passersby have noticed leasing signs at Marina Lakes at 21st and Amidon and wondered if that means the deal for a Walmart Neighborhood Market is off.

It’s quite the opposite.

Leasing is gearing up thanks to the future Walmart.

Demolition has begun to tear down about half of the large vacant building on the north end of the development. That’s where the Walmart will locate.

The other vacant spaces will be renovated for new tenants.

Andy Boyd of Walter Morris Cos. is handling leasing.

Dominic Garcia is the first to sign a new lease thanks to Walmart.

Garcia owns two Legends Barber Shops in Wichita.

“We have a lot of clientele on the north side of town,” he says. The new 750-square-foot store, which will be ready in a month, will “make the drive a little easier for our clients.”

Garcia has been looking for additional space for a while.

“There just wasn’t an area that I thought would be beneficial for us.”

Walmart changed that, he says.

“I wouldn’t have came if they weren’t opening up over there.”

Wal-Mart is close to final Neighborhood Market deals at 21st and Amidon, 13th and Oliver and possibly 31st South and Seneca

WICHITA — Some Wichita investors have the Marina Lakes shopping center under contract on the southwest corner of 21st and Amidon, which is directly across from Twin Lakes.

Those investors in turn have a contract with Wal-Mart for the chain to put one of its Neighborhood Markets in part of the space.

The market, which is a small grocery concept, would go on the north end of the center.

This doesn’t mean that it’s a done deal, though.

First, the investors have to close on the property. The earliest that will happen is the first part of 2011.

Only then can the Wal-Mart deal be completed.

Wal-Mart has already closed deals for three other markets — at Central and Maize, Central and West and Harry and Webb — and there’s a good chance this deal could close as well.

However, as is the case with any deal like this, especially in this economy, nothing’s for sure until the deal is truly done.

Wal-Mart also has a contract to go to 13th and Oliver at Providence Square, though there are some hurdles yet to go.

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