Old Town Suites becomes Swope Lofts

swope2UPDATED — The three-story red brick building at the southeast corner of Douglas and Washington is no longer going to be known for its position on the edge of Old Town.

swope1 Old Town Suites has gone back to its 1915 roots and is now known as Swope Lofts.

Sidney M. Swope built the building, which became a hotel in 1921.

“In honor of the 100-year anniversary, we switched it to the Swope Lofts,” says Mark Steiner, who bought the property in 1993. His cousin, Scott Steiner, became a partner in 1997.

When Mark Steiner purchased the 18,000-square-foot building, he renovated it for apartments and some commercial on the first floor. Original tenants the Aquarium in Old Town and Catholic Art & Gifts are still in the building.

swope4In addition to now rebranding the property, Steiner says, “We’re changing the theme.”

He credits his son, Clayton, with the changes.

“Clayton, my son, has done a terrific job renovating these,” Steiner says. “It was kind of his idea to rebrand all this.”

Clayton Steiner began managing the property last year, and Steiner says his son is creating an industrial, modern design in the building.

“He’s exposing all the brick and all the original hardwood,” Steiner says.swope3

Clayton Steiner also is taking out ceilings to expose wood beams, and he’s renovated the lobby.

Steiner says so far they’ve redone about five apartments and are doing more as they come open.

“We’re having a terrific response to it.”

Whole Foods Market will have some familiar Kansas touches when it opens

WICHITA — Whole Foods Market may be new to Wichita, but there’s going to be something familiar about the store when it opens Sept. 3 in the Waterfront at 13th and Webb.

The Austin-based chain often likes to take inspiration from a locale when opening a new store there.

“We normally try to have stories behind what we do,” says Paul Jarvis, decor project manager.

Some stores are easier than others.

“If we open in, like, a suburb, it’s harder to find … obvious details,” Jarvis says.

“Wichita is just chock full of fun stuff,” he says. “I went out to Wichita with one of the designers, and we just kind of soaked it in and did a lot of research.”

Jarvis, a Kansas State University graduate who works in Whole Foods’ Boulder office, took photos at places such as Beechcraft.

“We did a lot of walking around Old Town.”

Then he gathered photos and colors “from the feel we got” and did a hierarchy of what’s important here.

“Aviation came out on top,” Jarvis says.

Kansas nature and what he calls a Native American element also were influential.

There will be some obvious references to those things and some more subtle references.

“There are a lot of yellows that we got from sunflowers and … fields and wheat,” Jarvis says.

A lot of the decorative wood in the store is reclaimed.

Jarvis also went to Rantoul, Kan., to visit Dodson International, which deals in aircraft parts.

“I wanted to find something special,” Jarvis says. “They’re a great resource.”

He picked up some old wings and propellers, among other things.

Jarvis is not saying how he’s going to use them, though.

“I kind of want them to be a little bit of a surprise when we open.”

In addition to actual aircraft parts, there will be artwork featuring aspects of aviation or patterns that can be seen from planes.

“We really kind of went all out with the details of the patterns we got from airplanes,” Jarvis says.

“There’s a lot of little details like that that hopefully people will pick up on.”

Team leader Angela Schmidt gives a tour of the new Wichita Whole Foods Market, which she’ll manage.

Method Productions to move to Old Town

WICHITA — As Have You Heard? reported Monday, Jacque Waite and her Jacque Inc. Photography are now in the Grant Telegraph Centre in Old Town, and Method Productions will be joining her next week.

“We have a rapport and a friendship with her,” says Method Productions’ Luis Rodriguez. “It just made sense to do it together.”

Method Productions is a 2-year-old full-service video production company that Gabe Juhnke and Rik Dubiel started from their homes.

They now share space with Burly Studios on Commerce Street.

“We were collaborating with (Burly) on some bigger projects,” Rodriguez says. “We co-located because it made sense.”

As Method Productions needed studio space, though, it started using Waite’s studio next to Caffe Moderne. When she learned her lease would not be renewed so the Morris, Laing, Evans, Brock & Kennedy, Chartered law firm could expand there, Waite and Method Productions began talking.

“We’ve got a whole collection of clients who need and want this,” Rodriguez says of having an on-site studio.

“It’s just part of our growth and our success.”

Method Productions does a range of video production.

“If you want a professionally produced video that’s short and sweet, we do that,” Rodriguez says. “If you want something elaborate, we do that, too.”

He says the company wants “to be Target for video production,” meaning he says it offers quality work at affordable prices.

“We are looking to kind of make the video production process custom to the customer.”

Rodriguez says a studio and office in the same space will help with that.

“We’re excited to do it. It’s a big jump for us, and we think it’ll just take us to the next level.”

Jacque Inc. Photography to move within Old Town

UPDATED — Photographer Jacque Waite is moving her Jacque Inc. Photography within Old Town this week.

Waite’s studio and office has been to the east of Caffe Moderne for three and a half years, but the Morris, Laing, Evans, Brock & Kennedy, Chartered law firm will be expanding into her space.

The studio now will be on the first floor of the Grant Telegraph Centre at 140 N. Mead.

At the new space, Waite says she’ll be sharing her studio with Method Productions.

Waite says her work doesn’t depend on her studio being especially visible, but it may now have more exposure than it has had.

“I ended up in some people’s Facebook pictures … when they’re at Oeno,” she says. Otherwise, Waite says, “I don’t think people always see it.”

Finns Lounge grand reopening is Saturday

WICHITA — Like most bar and restaurant openings, the new version of Finns Lounge in Old Town has taken longer than expected to get ready.

It’s ready now, though.

Amy Stepien, who used to work at Finns when Greg Finley owned it, and her husband, Jason, are having a grand reopening on Saturday.

While staff is in training this week, Amy Stepien says Finns will accept walk-in business as well.

The bar, which no longer has any affiliation with Finley, is at 131 N. Rock Island.

As Amy Stepien told Have You Heard? in March, “It is still going to be Finns Lounge because Finns has been known in Old Town.”

Rage to convert to Boots & Buckles

WICHITA — He’s gone country, back to his roots.

Well, Pat Alvarez isn’t actually living out an Alan Jackson song, but he is converting his Old Town club Rage into a country bar.

“I decided to completely change the format,” says Alvarez, who also owns the Port of Wichita. “There’s no country in Old Town.”

Boots & Buckles will open May 30. Alvarez is calling it “Wichita’s premier saloon.”

“It’s not that Rage wasn’t working,” he says. “It’s just that we’re all doing the same music.”

Rage, which opened early this year, is closed as Alvarez gets ready for the conversion.

“We’re going to kind of country-nize it, I guess,” he says. “Beat it up a little bit.”

Alvarez says the space, which is at the former Club Liquid site at 235 N. Mosley, won’t change dramatically. The music will, though.

“The format is definitely going to be 100 percent country.”

Thumb wrestling event to be a fundraiser

WICHITA — Koch-Glitsch employee Wade Davis is in the running for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Man and Woman of the Year, and he’s having a unique event to raise money for the group.

On Saturday, Davis is hosting a thumb wrestling tournament from noon to 3 p.m. at Heroes Sports Bar & Grill in Old Town. There will prizes for different age categories.

So is there a lot of thumb wrestling going on at Koch? Was that the inspiration?

“There’s some hand wringing sometimes,” Davis says, joking, “but no thumb wrestling.”

Google pin drop attracts attention at Corner 365, but Google has nothing to do with it

This sign in front of the new Corner 365 apartments is attracting attention -- just as Mike Garvey hoped it would.

This sign in front of the new Corner 365 apartments is attracting attention — just as Mike Garvey hoped it would.

WICHITA — The popular Google pin drop, which pinpoints sites on Google maps, has been popping up in a number of strange places worldwide.

For instance, the British tabloid Metro did a story last week about the red Google A, which looks like an upside down teardrop, showing up in a Berkshire roundabout. The paper quoted someone who questioned if it could be linked to a mysterious ghost child who supposedly haunts a nearby bridge.

Artist Aram Bartholl has a project in which he erected a giant red letter A in some cities on the spots that Google says are the centers of the cities.

Now, Wichita’s Builders Inc. has a red A in front of its apartments, Corner 365, under construction at the southeast corner of First and Waco.

No one has questioned if a ghost child is involved, but some have wondered if the A might denote what Google thinks is the center of Wichita. That’s not the case, though.

Builders Inc. president Mike Garvey says he was online one day when he saw a man in Germany standing in front of a building with what looked like the Google pin in front of it.

Garvey says he realized it was an imposter pin, but he says, “I was like, that’s a great idea.”

Hoping to bring attention to the apartments, Garvey had a sign company make him a similar pin.

“Some people have noticed it,” he says. “Maybe people drive by it and think it’s a Google pin.”

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Janelle King finds new Workroom space

WICHITA — Designer Janelle King has found new space for her Workroom, and it’s remarkably similar to her current space.

“It is just right around the corner from us,” King says of 150 N. Cleveland, which is just south of the southeast corner of Douglas and Cleveland.

Her landlord will be Bill Jackson, who is one of the landlords she’s had at the Domestic Laundry building at 1425 E. Douglas, which is just east of Old Town.

The building owners recently sold to Joe Hayes and his Open Road Brands, which is why King is having to move.

King says Jackson is “very supportive of me and my business.”

“He supports downtown growth and development as well as the local arts industry and local businesses,” she says. “That was a big … selling point for me.”

King expects to open at the Cleveland address by June 1, although she says she may not have the business’ retail space entirely ready to go.

“During the entire month of May, we’re going to do a moving sale,” she says.

Before that, though, she’s going to celebrate the one-year anniversary of her store, which has retail and offers what King calls home tech textile fabrication, such as custom drapes, pillows and bedding.

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Loft 150 likely will transform into new venue

WICHITA — Loft 150 above River City Brewing Co. in Old Town is a teenager now, and that means it’s time for a change.

“We’ve got to reinvest in our business if we’re going to keep people coming in here,” says operating partner Chris Arnold.

The 21-year-old River City Brewing created Loft 150 during a remodeling in 2001 to give it “a little more bar feel … to get that late night crowd to come in here,” Arnold says.

He says there was more of a dimly lit lounge feel with leather couches than the rustic look of River City.

“It worked great for a lot of years,” Arnold says. “That trend is just kind of over.”

While downstairs business “is really, really great right now,” he says upstairs “got stagnant, just slowed down a little bit.”

He has bids out to remodel the upstairs and create a feel more similar to the downstairs with hardwood floors, exposed beams, a lighter look and new garage doors onto its balcony.

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