Vliet family sells Old Town property

UPDATED — Rich and Marni Vliet were a young couple in 1975 when they first started buying Old Town property.

“Rich began having this Old Town dream when we met,” Marni Vliet says of her late husband, who died of ALS two years ago.

First, they purchased the Looking Glass restaurant in the 400 block of East Douglas.

Then, in the mid 1980s, they began eyeing a dilapidated area of Old Town in the 900 block along East Douglas.

“We were beginning to get a feel for the frontage of Douglas,” Vliet says. “We used to sit at the Beacon and look at the block over our omelettes.”

The Vliets shared a dream and a dedication to the redevelopment of Old Town, and that included what Rich Vliet thought of as the entry point of Old Town.

“Rich was right,” Vliet says. “He said, ‘Old Town needs a face. … It needs a front door.’”

The Vliets purchased the property from 910 through 926 E. Douglas, which has 29,531 square feet over nine units. Friday, they sold it to a group called Old Town Ventures.

“I wouldn’t even characterize it as bittersweet,” Marni Vliet says. “It’s the end of a chapter for our family.”

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Bill Jackson and six employees purchase Domestic Laundry building on Douglas

Bill Jackson, one of the new owners of the Domestic Laundry building, says of this vintage photo of the building and all its delivery trucks, "Yep, the laundry business must have been very good back then. I guess there probably wasn't a washer and dryer in every home or maybe not even in hotels."

WICHITA — Wichita’s well-known Domestic Laundry building at 1425 E. Douglas has a new owner.

“We’ve all loved that building for a long time,” says Bill Jackson, Transitions Group owner, of himself and six employees who bought the building.

Jackson has been leasing space in the building for his ACI Design Studio for the last couple of years.

“A group of my employees who have been with me for a long time — some of them up to 25 years — and myself formed a little LLC and bought it.”

DL 1425, which stands for Domestic Laundry and the building’s address, includes Karen Cundiff, whom Jackson describes as an instrumental player in the Douglas Design District; Brent Dorrah, who runs ACI; Barney Lehnherr; Brendan Hogan; and Jackson’s children Piper Ayala and Josh Jackson.

Bill Jackson says they’d hoped to have another name for their LLC, but “every interesting, fun name was taken.”

Jackson says the Domestic Laundry building is a key piece of Douglas and his group will do what it can to improve its stature.

“That part of East Douglas was always known for its neon signage,” he says.

He points to GLMV Architecture’s prominent new sign just down the street and says his group would like to do something similar.

Jackson says he has pictures of the “cool signage” from the building’s early history and may use that for inspiration.

“We were thinking about maybe looking into the possibility of maybe redesigning the sign that’s up there now.”

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Looking Glass dome finds new home at Domestic Laundry building

domeThe glass dome from the former Looking Glass restaurant is now hanging in the Domestic Laundry building at 1425 E. Douglas, which also is home to the Greteman Group and Primerica Financial Services.

Building owner Rich Vliet, who used to have the popular downtown restaurant, had to remove the glass from its former space at 412 E. Douglas to repair a ceiling.

He thought about donating it to Botanica, but he says there’s no place for it.

Vliet likes where it’s hanging now and invites people to pop in for a look.

“Hopefully, it will make an attractive entryway.”