Aflac regional office moves from west side to O’Rourke Title Building downtown

WICHITA — The regional Aflac office has moved from the west side to 2,010 square feet at the O’Rourke Title Building at William and Broadway.

“We just wanted to get downtown,” says regional manager Kathy Wiedemann.

She says part of the reason is to have a more centrally located office, but also, she says, there’s “just a little bit more energy downtown.”

Not to mention there’s also the Cafe Bel Ami factor. The restaurant is located on the building’s first floor.

“You know, we just got done eating lunch there,” Wiedemann says of her first day in the new office on Monday.

“It’s just so convenient,” she says. “It’s fun being down here.”

Tony Utter of Utter Commercial Real Estate handled the deal.

Wiedemann says there’s been extensive remodeling and painting in Aflac’s new suite except for her office, which once belonged to Pat O’Rourke of O’Rourke Title.

“I’m sitting right now in his old office,” Wiedemann says. “I didn’t touch his office because I just like it the way it is.”

She says it has old, wood paneling.

“It might sound kind of ugly, but it’s really not,” Wiedemann says.

“Imagine all the deals that went on back in the day when he was in here,” she says. “So it’s kind of neat to be in his office.”

Tony Utter surprises fellow brokers as the Wichita Executive Centre’s new listing agent

Other brokers may question what he’s doing, but Tony Utter is confident in the future of the Wichita Executive Centre.

UPDATED — Some of Tony Utter’s fellow commercial brokers have had a recurring question for him since learning he’s taken over the listing for Real Development’s Wichita Executive Centre.

“Basically, was I out of my mind?”

Utter, who owns Utter Commercial Real Estate, acknowledges financial and other issues the Minnesota Guys and the building at 125 N. Market have faced in recent years.

“It’s been a topic of conversation quite a bit lately,” he says.

Calvin Klaassen, who works with Utter, will be helping him with the leasing.

“We did a lot of research before we agreed to it,” Utter says. “It was only after we were satisfied and reached … a high comfort level that we agreed to do this.”

Maintenance and other issues at the building aren’t all that had Utter concerned.

“We wanted to be very careful, very cautious before we agreed to take on a building of this size,” he says.

The 19-story, more than 300,000-square-foot building has about 80,000 vacant square feet of office space and about 100,000 vacant square feet of former hotel space. Utter says it’s the second-tallest office building in the state next to the neighboring Epic Center.

“This is the most complicated office building that I’ve ever been involved with,” Utter says. “It has a long history in Wichita.”

He’s had some history there already himself.

Utter was the leasing agent for the building for eight months before Real Development purchased it in 2007.

“So I’m back,” he says.

There are a few reasons Utter agreed to get involved.

No. 1, he is confident that his firm and any vendors will get paid.

“The good thing is that the lender is heavily involved,” Utter says of Security National Capital of Salt Lake City.

“We’re expecting a lot of assistance from other real estate brokers, and they want assurances that they’re going to be paid,” Utter says. “We depend heavily on working with other brokers. We consider them as part of our team.”

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Cafe Bel Ami resolves its lawsuit over parking at the O’Rourke Title Building

UPDATED — Cafe Bel Ami’s parking situation at the O’Rourke Title Building finally is resolved, although so far no one is sharing details.

Restaurant owner Nabil Bacha filed a lawsuit against his landlord at the building at 229 E. William after reserved signs were placed on certain parking spots that he says his customers have a right to use.

Through an e-mail, Simon Palmer Properties says there’s now “an amicable resolution,” although president Troy Palmer won’t elaborate on it.

Bacha didn’t return calls for comment, but his attorney, Harry Najim, says, “It is a fair and equitable resolution of the lawsuit.”

The Simon Palmer e-mail regarding the resolution says: “The building owners are pleased to have one of Wichita’s Finest Downtown Restaurant as a long-term tenant.”

There’s little Christmas cheer in the parking lot at Cafe Bel Ami downtown

WICHITA — The parking situation still isn’t resolved at Cafe Bel Ami.

Cafe Bel Ami owner Nabil Bacha recently filed a lawsuit against his landlord at the O’Rourke Title Building at 229 E. William after reserved signs were placed on certain parking spots that he says his customers have a right to use.

Simon Palmer Properties president Troy Palmer, who manages the property, said he hoped to have the situation resolved in a matter of days. That was in late October.

“Tell him Christmas is coming, too, OK?” said Bacha’s attorney, Harry Najim, at the time.

Najim was successful in getting a restraining order that forced Palmer to remove the reserved signs. The situation was only temporary until a hearing last month.

As Palmer says, “Yes, Christmas is coming, and the signs are back up.”

Cafe Bel Ami owner sues landlord and property manager over parking

WICHITA — The owner of Cafe Bel Ami is in a parking dispute with his landlord and the company that manages the O’Rourke Title Building at 229 E. William, where the downtown restaurant is located.

Nabil Bacha filed a lawsuit in Sedgwick County District Court after reserved signs were placed on certain parking spots that he says his customers have a right to use.

Harry Najim, Bacha’s lawyer, says his client has nonexclusive use of the entire parking lot during certain hours and that reserved signs hinder that.

He says customers “don’t want to go in the restaurant and come back and find their car gone.”

Troy Palmer, president of Simon Palmer Properties, says he can’t discuss the dispute much beyond saying that there is one.

“We really hope to have it resolved before Friday,” he says. “We’re still kind of negotiating.”

There’s a temporary restraining order that forced Palmer to remove the reserved signs for now. A hearing is set for Friday.

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