Slawson Cos. purchases southeast corner of 29th and Maize

WICHITA — Slawson Cos., the developer of NewMarket Square at 21st and Maize, has purchased 73 acres at the southeast corner of 29th and Maize.

The new Sam’s Club is on the northeast corner.

“Obviously, it’s a very-well located property,” says Slawson commercial broker Jerry Jones.

The company acquired the property, including the approximately 10-acre Cadillac Lake, from the Pracht family.

Jones says the family owned it for almost 100 years and cultivated the habitat for water fowl and also farmed on the land the last 40 or 50 years.

He says the property has a number of potential uses.

“That’s what we’re doing right now. We’re evaluating its potential.”

Jones says the Maize Road frontage is excellent for retail and restaurant development.

He says there’s additional potential for around the lake, which could be used for offices, bird watching, hiking or fishing.

Jones says it’s too early to give a time frame for development.

“We’ve got a lot of planning and entitlements to work through.”

Company founder Don Slawson died earlier this month at the age of 80.

“We want to carry out Don’s legacy of quality development,” Jones says, “so we’ll be very deliberate in our planning and make sure we execute it accordingly.”

Costco files application to build at the northeast corner of Kellogg and Webb Road

platUPDATED — Wichitans have been waiting a long time, but there’s now confirmation from Costco that the company is coming here.

The chain filed a development application to build a new store at the northeast corner of Kellogg and Webb Road.

“They’ve put in for their plat approvals,” says John Schlegel, director of the Wichita-Sedgwick County Metropolitan Area Planning Department.

“They’re moving on getting things started because the plat would be the first step.”

You can view the plat in detail here.

Costco has no comment, though. A representative says Costco chairman and cofounder Jeff Brotman is the only person authorized to speak for the company. Brotman’s assistant says he’s traveling and can’t comment.

Have You Heard? first reported that Costco was interested in the Beechcraft property in 2012. No one with Costco or Beechcraft would confirm the company’s interest until Beechcraft’s then-CEO Bill Boisture inadvertently confirmed it during an interview with Aviation Week last July. The same day, Aviation Week changed its online story to say a big box store – not Costco – was coming.

The subdivision committee of the Wichita-Segwick County Metropolitan Area Planning Commission approved the plat Thursday. It will go before the full commission on Aug. 7. After that, the Wichita City Council must accept any easements or road right of ways before Costco can proceed to build.

It looks like the deal for the Beechcraft space hasn’t closed and may not until all city approvals are finalized.

The Costco confirmation comes as Sam’s Club, a direct competitor, opened its third store in Wichita. The chain already had stores on West Kellogg and on North Rock Road. A new one opened Thursday at 29th and Maize.

Schlegel said Costco’s plat does several things.

“They’re creating a property description, an address (and) showing where the easements will be,” he says. “They have to show where they’re going to make connections to the public utilities, how drainage will work for the site and where they will get access to the adjacent streets.”

Costco’s address will be 9700 E. Kellogg.

Look for more information on the new store soon.

Panera Bread on North Rock Road to temporarily close to install drive-through

WICHITA — It may not have happened by spring as he hoped, but Randy Simon is now about to add a drive-through at his Panera Bread at 1605 N. Rock Road.

The restaurant is going to close from Monday until July 22 to make the addition along with interior remodeling.

Derby is the only other Wichita-area Panera with a drive-through so far.

Simon says he’s in the process of submitting plans to do a drive-through at the Panera at Taft and Ridge.

He’s just finished remodeling the Panera near Central and Hillside, which wasn’t able to have a drive-through.

“We just were not able to work the necessary arrangemetns out with Walgreens,” Simon says.

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Historic Midtown home becomes a B&B; Wellington Place Inn to open in December

Wayne Chambliss (left) and Gary Ivy are opening Wellington Place Inn in December.

WICHITA — It’s no coincidence that when a visitor enters the home at 1847 N. Wellington Place in Midtown, one of the first noticeable things is an enticing aroma of freshly baked cookies wafting from the kitchen.

Wayne Chambliss and Gary Ivy planned it that way, as they intend to do for each of their guests when they open Wellington Place Inn in December.

The two have been wanting to open a bed and breakfast for some time. From their home base in Austin, Texas, they flew all over the country to look at possible cities and inns.

“Either the town was beautiful and the house was a wreck, or the house was beautiful and the town didn’t seem to have anything going on,” Chambliss says.

They were close on a deal in Ohio, but they took it as a sign when it didn’t work out.

The 6,500-square-foot Wellington Place house “was just gorgeous and was in very good shape,” Chambliss says, and he says Wichitans immediately welcomed him and Ivy.

“The business climate is phenomenal,” he says. “Everybody just seemed very positive, and so we thought this was the place to be. … Wichita just seemed to have everything.”

They’re still doing research on the house, but Chambliss says it was built in 1887 by former Wichita Mayor L.W. Clapp and is on local and national historic registries.

“It’s a beautiful old home,” he says.

The city used to own the house and used it as an event center.

There are five bedrooms that will be used for guests. Chambliss and Ivy are keeping the third floor private for their own use.

“There are so many cool features about this house,” Chambliss says. “The thing I’m most proud of is one of the front doors (Clapp) actually hand carved, and it’s still here.”

Ivy says small details, such as unique knobs on doors, caught his eye when he saw the house.

“I was like, this is fantastic,” he says.

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New Sam’s Club should open next summer

WICHITA — When it comes to big box news, it’s hard to beat the excitement about the new Costco coming to Kellogg and Webb Road. There’s still plenty of interest, though, in the new Sam’s Club that will open not far from the northern part of NewMarket Square.

According to a spokesman for the Arkansas-based retailer, the new Sam’s will open in 136,000 square feet at the northeast corner of 29th and Maize Road next summer.

This will make the ninth Sam’s in Kansas. The new store will hire about 175 people. Sam’s and sister company Walmart have almost 20,000 employees in the state.

The new Sam’s will have a fuel center and a pharmacy.

Look for a specific opening date closer to next summer.

You don’t say

“I have actually seen the blueprints.”

City Council member Jeff Longwell on how, despite what it may seem, plans for a new Sam’s Club at 29th and Maize Road are moving forward

Costco deal for more than 17 acres at Beechcraft property is getting closer

UPDATED — Anyone who’s ever done a real estate deal knows it almost always takes longer than expected, and it’s no different with Costco’s potential purchase of Beechcraft property.

It was about this time last year that Have You Heard? first reported that the Issaquah, Wash.-based chain, a competitor to Sam’s Club, was looking to come to Wichita.

In August, sources said Costco was interested in the northeast corner of Kellogg and Webb Road, which was Hawker Beechcraft property.

When the aircraft company changed its name to simply Beechcraft earlier this year and changed all its signs, spokeswoman Nicole Alexander said it didn’t put one back up on the corner since the property is for sale.

No one with Beechcraft or Costco is talking yet, but here’s the latest on the potential deal:

Costco has about 17 1/2 acres under contract. The deal isn’t likely to close until later this year. That’s substantially further out than initial time lines suggested. It looks like part of the holdup was the Hawker bankruptcy filing. There were some questions related to environmental issues at the plant as well.

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Costco has a top pick for Wichita property

WICHITA — Costco has identified a top pick for property to open its first store in Wichita, but no one with the cost-cutting competitor to Sam’s Club is talking yet.

Sources says the Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco is interested in the northeast corner of Kellogg and Webb Road, which is Hawker Beechcraft property.

“We do not have any information or comments to provide at this time,” Hawker spokeswoman Nicole Alexander said in an e-mail.

Hawker’s bankruptcy doesn’t appearing to be hurting a potential Costco deal, although it sounds like it may be slowing things.

In April, Have You Heard? reported that Costco was once again seriously eyeing Wichita – as it had several years ago before a deal fell apart.

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Costco may be close to a Wichita deal

WICHITA — Wichita, you just may get your wish for a Costco — maybe even relatively soon — though how close the company is to a deal depends on who you talk to.

The Issaquah, Wash.-based chain, which sells bulk items similar to Sam’s Club stores, has been eyeing Wichita again.

“I came to the market to look at the market on a macro basis,” says co-founder and executive chairman Jeff Brotman. “I didn’t like anything I saw.”

Brotman says that “without disclosing our deepest, darkest secrets,” he can say that the locations he looked at didn’t fit with the way the market moves, meaning its natural trade areas.

“I have a mild interest,” Brotman says. “I’m interested in everything, right? . . . It’s just hard to focus on things that aren’t burning priorities.”

That’s not how others tell it. According to them, Costco is close enough to a deal that a 2013 opening isn’t out of the question.

Even Brotman says, “Let’s just assume it was true: I wouldn’t tell you about it. Even after we get a property under control, we don’t talk about it until after we have permits.”

In summer 2010, The Eagle conducted a poll of what businesses Wichitans would like to have in the city.

Costco narrowly lost the top choice to Cheesecake Factory.

“I was a little disappointed that we came in second,” Costco co-founder and then-CEO Jim Sinegal joked at the time. “I’ve got to be prepared to deal with these little disappointments in life.”

Costco has previously been close to at least one other deal here, and Sinegal said a finalized deal is simply a matter of the company giving Wichita some attention.

“Meaning . . . we get off our butts and go take a look,” he said. “At any point and time, we probably have 100 different sites we’re looking at.”

Sources say several sites have been under consideration over the last six months or so.

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Fired Walmart worker receives outpouring of support — and a couple of shots at a new job

WICHITA — What a difference a day makes.

Monday, Heather Ravenstein filed for unemployment after losing her job as a customer service manager at the Walmart on West Kellogg.

She was fired because she violated company policy by foiling a shoplifter’s attempt to steal a computer.

Tuesday, the single mother received an outpouring of support as more people learned of her situation through The Eagle and other news outlets.

“My phone’s been going off the hook,” Ravenstein says.

Mostly it’s friends and former co-workers who have her number, so others have been trying to track her down by calling her former in-laws and by contacting The Eagle.

So far, there are two Wichita businesses that are interested in interviewing Ravenstein for possible jobs.

Her landlord has given her one month’s free rent.

Some people are offering money, including one politician (who prefers to remain anonymous) who would like to buy her a grocery card and a gas card — not from Walmart or Sam’s Club.

People from across the state are supporting Ravenstein with comments like, “I’ve never heard of anything so un-American.”

“They’re getting a lot of heat from this,” Ravenstein says of Wal-Mart.

And Ravenstein is feeling a lot more confident than she did on Monday.

“I’ve got a lot of people backing me up, so I’m OK.”