Loony Bin closes deal for downtown space

UPDATED — As expected, the owners of the Loony Bin closed a deal this week to buy the 13,000-square-foot building between First and Second streets on St. Francis across from the urban park on the southeast corner of Second and St. Francis.

“We hope to get open probably early fall, September or October at the latest, I would say,” says partner Jeff Jones.

The Loony Bin had been at 21st and Woodlawn in Oxford Square from 1999 until it closed in late March.

The new space is two buildings — one a single story and one that’s two stories — that are attached.

The 3,400-square-foot single-story space is where the comedy club will be. It will hold about 150, which is down from the 299 that the previous space held.

“Although that was pretty optimistic,” Jones says.

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You don’t say

“But then again, I’m blindly optimistic about just about anything. . . . I can sell ice to Eskimos. I just have to have people to talk to.”

Elizabeth Barker, who just joined Prudential Dinning-Beard in her first real estate job, on how she isn’t daunted to enter the field during such a trying economy

Prudential Dinning-Beard’s deal with Stucky and Associates is off

WICHITA — Prudential Dinning-Beard’s deal to acquire Stucky and Associates is off.

Prudential president Willie Kihle notified his staff in an e-mail today.

“I told them the only thing I can say,” he says. “Outside entities have presented some issues that . . . can’t be resolved.”

Kihle won’t say what those issues are. Stucky chief executive Frank Stucky didn’t return calls for comment.

“I would assume that if there’s a story there, he needs to tell it,” Kihle says.

His e-mail to employees referenced events that happened over what he called “the last few hours.”

“Due to issues beyond our control that we were not aware of, this transaction is not going to take place,” he said.

Co-owner Mona Stein also signed the letter.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” Kihle says. “We certainly hoped that we would be able to do this.”

The deal would have made Prudential the largest residential real estate company in Kansas, Kihle and Stucky previously said.

Stucky has 155 sales professionals; Prudential has 305.

“That’s a large move,” Kihle says of the number of agents that would have been involved.

“Obviously, the size of this opportunity was rare.”

But he says there will be other opportunities for his company.

“This was not outside of our . . . business strategy.”

Melanie Rene Jewelry to open in former Emmert’s Jewelry & Repair on East Central

WICHITA — After 35 years in business, Emmert’s Jewelry & Repair at 4618 E. Central closed, but a new jewelry store is opening in its place.

Melanie Williamson hopes to open her Melanie Rene Jewelry by Aug. 1.

The custom designer says, “I do real modern, contemporary stuff, but I also will do remounting, repair, appraisal — everything.”

Williamson grew up in Wichita, went to the University of Kansas and never returned home until now.

Initially, she studied graphic design, but she says one bad teacher caused her to change her focus.

Williamson took an elective class that piqued her interest and caused her to shift her major to metalsmithing.

Eventually, she opened Gemesis Jewelers in Las Vegas, which she had for five years. She closed the shop three years ago but decided she wants to get back in the business full time.

Williamson says she’s “done with Vegas.”

“I was there almost 10 years. It’s really hard to get a business going there right now.”

Williamson likes that her new space is close to the popular Bella Luna Cafe.

Her mother, Barbara Williams of Prudential Dinning-Beard, helped her find it.

And though Williamson says she’s a very different jeweler than Jim Emmert is, she likes that she’ll occupy the East Central space where he was for 15 of his 35 years in business.

“It was previously a jewelry store, and everybody knows it’s a jewelry store,” Williamson says. “I’m just kind of relying on the old foot traffic.”

Round barn to be home to an events venue


Terri and Jon Reece both have day jobs — she’s a real estate agent with Prudential Dinning-Beard, and he’s a restaurant manager – but they’re now opening a business together.

The couple bought what’s known as the “round barn” at 9449 S. Woodlawn south of Derby and plan to open an events venue there.

“I would like it to eventually be my job,” Jon Reece says. “We’d like to see what this turns into.”

The yellow barn, which turns 100 next year, is well known in the area.

“Everybody just knows where it is and what is is,” Terri Reece says. “Most people see it when they’re coming down K-15.”

Benton Steele, whom Reece describes as the Frank Lloyd Wright of barn building, built the barn. Two wings were added in the ’40s, and the barn eventually held a medical clinic, an antiques shop and was used for church services and other functions.

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Nothing personal, dude


Don’t know if you had a chance to read my article on the Steven family last week. You’d need to set aside about 20 minutes to get through the whole thing. After all, there are a lot of Stevens. Eleven children and — I didn’t stop to count — who knows how many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, uncles, aunts and cousins.

One part of the story included a sidebar on some of those extended family members. I tried to be clear that I wasn’t including everyone, but real estate agent Gary Steven still was a little surprised not to see himself.

“Everybody’s called me and gone, ‘What’s happened to you?’ ” he says.

Sorry, Gary. No disrespect.

For the record, he’s with Prudential Dinning-Beard.

For more pictures of the family — and, alas, Gary, I don’t think you’re in them — check out our Steven photo gallery.