Demolition work under way at Twin Lakes in preparation for possible development

WICHITA — In preparation for possible new development, there’s demolition work under way at Twin Lakes, the shopping center at 21st and Amidon that once was Wichita’s premier retail destination.

“The owners are demolishing two portions of the property to clear ground for a new development, but they don’t know what that new development is going to be,” says Brad Saville of Landmark Commercial Real Estate, which manages the property.

The Colorado-based owners “thought it would be better to demolish portions of the center that were obsolete.”

Saville says a couple of areas of the center have been difficult to rent in recent years. That includes the former Sears automotive center on the south side of the property. Saville says the owners are considering doing a multifamily residential development there.

The former cinema at the center, which last was home to Aaron’s, also is being demolished. Saville says that area, which is on the west side of the property along Amidon, could potentially be used for a freestanding retail outlet.

We’ll let you know what happens.

West-side Miracle Ear opens in new space

WICHITA — After more than twenty years inside Sears at Towne West Square, Miracle Ear now has a place of its own.

Franchisee Lora Cruse, who operates the business with her husband Monty, and son, Monty Cruse Jr., says it was time to “get ourself out there and get in front of everybody.”

The new store is at the Maple Street Mini Mall on the northwest corner of Maple and Anna, which is across from Towne West.

“We didn’t want to get too far away because that’s where our customers know we are,” Cruse says.

The new space is 1,100 square feet.

“It is probably twice as big,” Cruse says.

A bigger factor in the move is that the new space is “just easier to get to.”

“Our folks don’t have to navigate that bigger parking lot … at Towne West.”

The Cruses also have a Miracle Ear in the Sears at Towne East Square.

You don’t say

“I guess it has rained a lot when the sides of your building start falling off.”

– The Garvey Center’s Larry Weber, commenting on storm damage from wind at the east-side Sears building

Towne West Medical Plaza coming to Towne West Square for nontraditional use

Michael Payton (from left), Jeff Englert and Grant Glasgow are trying to market a new Towne West Medical Plaza for a nontraditional approach to filling the mall.

WICHITA — Area mall manager Michael Payton is using a new saying to describe Simon Property Group malls such as Towne East Square and Towne West Square.

“The malls are starting to become the ‘alls.’”

He means the malls offer more than retail and restaurant options these days.

“We’re starting to see more and more nontraditional users work their way into the mall environment.”

The latest foray into a nontraditional use will be the new Towne West Medical Plaza, a potentially 50,000-square-foot area that could be home to a variety of medical users.

“Basically kind of a one-stop shop for different medical needs,” says Jeff Englert of Grubb & Ellis/Martens Commercial Group.

Englert and colleague Grant Glasgow are marketing the property, which will be on the west side of the mall between Sears and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

“This is something they’ve tried in other markets,” Glasgow says of Simon.

“You have a built-in customer base within Towne West mall.”

Glasgow says the mall has 6 million visitors annually.

Payton says the medical location will be convenient for patients, who also could be shoppers.

“They can do some shopping. They can eat.”

Glasgow says to see why this idea makes sense, look at the number of medical providers in the southwest Wichita area.

“It is by far the fewest in Wichita,” he says.

Englert says that area has only 1 percent of all medical offices in the city.

“Obviously, there’s a clear void,” he says. “That’s another reason why we thought this would be a good use of space.”

In addition to being convenient for patients, Glasgow says a medical plaza at the mall makes sense for doctors and dentists, too.

“This allows medical users to cluster,” he says. “They like to all be together.”

On-site management is another plus, he says.

“There are benefits like 24-7 security.”

The area likely will develop in phases.

“It will not cut off through the rest of the mall,” Englert says of access to shopping through that entrance.

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Simon Property Group hires local firm to market space

WICHITA — It’s not exactly news when new space is available at a mall, but Jeff Englert makes a good case for 8,000 square feet that he and Grubb & Ellis/Martens Commercial Group colleagues are marketing at Towne East Square.

“To my knowledge, it’s the first time that Simon used third-party brokers in Wichita,” he says of Simon Property Group, which owns the mall.

Perhaps more significantly, Englert says, “They want to go after nontraditional mall tenants for this.”

Not that he and fellow brokers Nathan Farha and Grant Glasgow won’t look at retail.

“Retail is definitely going to be our first play there.”

However, Simon has had some luck with nonretail tenants, such as Wright Career College.

“They want to explore that some more,” Englert says.

The space is located on the west side of Towne East between Dillard’s and Sears at the second-most busy main entrance of the mall. Englert says it’s possible to add a glass exterior so the space is visible from outside the mall.

After retail, Englert says there could be possibilities such as office users, educational facilities or a fitness center.

He says he’ll soon have news on a new Towne West Square tenant.

“This will be pretty big news, let’s put it that way.”

Look for it in about a month or so.

Towne West Square to be home to an ice rink

WICHITA — Towne West Square has what sounds like some cool news: It’s getting an ice rink.

Wichitans may enjoy the rink, but it’s not likely to cool anyone off this hot summer.

That’s because the Glide Plaza that Salvador Marroquin is bringing to the mall next month is made of synthetic ice instead of water-based ice.

Abby Marr, the mall’s director of marketing and business development, says the plastic surface will look and feel like the real thing, though.

“It will draw people to the property who just want to try something new in the middle of the summer,” she says.

When the mall is open, the rink will be, too.

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Cinnabon to open at Towne East Square

WICHITA — You might feel like you’re in an airport this fall if you’re shopping at Towne East Square.

There’s a new Cinnabon — the shop that seems to be at most large airports these days — opening there in October.

The Atlanta-based chain, which was founded in 1985, is known for its aromatic, hot-out-of-the-oven cinnamon rolls in addition to other baked goods and beverages.

There are more than 800 of the franchised sites worldwide. Usually, they’re found in high-traffic spots, such as malls and airports.

The Towne East Cinnabon will open in the former Nuts 4 You spot by the food court and children’s play area.

Nuts 4 You is now in the former AT&T space on the upper level near Sears.

Noodles & Co. coming to Towne East Square

WICHITA — The Colorado-based Noodles & Co. chain has signed a deal for a second Wichita restaurant, this time at Towne East Square.

“We just got it signed,” says Angel Rogers, Towne East’s director of marketing and business development.

The first Noodles will open in December at 3300 N. Rock Road across from Subway.

The Towne East Noodles, which will open in March, will locate in the former Elementz space on the southeast end of the mall. It will be at a mall entrance between Von Maur and JC Penney.

Since it will have an external entrance, the 4,813-square-foot restaurant also will have a patio.

The chain sells all kinds of noodle dishes including the more exotic, such as Pad Thai, to the more everyday dishes, such as mac and cheese.

Small noodle bowls are $4.25. Regular-size bowls are $5.25. Protein costs $2.25 more, and there are 14 fresh vegetables from which to choose.

There also are soups and salads.

Noodles has about 250 restaurants nationally and is rapidly expanding.

We’ll keep you posted on more possible Wichita sites, including potential west-side Noodles locations.

Phil Ruffin to expand Harper Trucks once again with a major account

WICHITA — Phil Ruffin is preparing to expand his Harper Trucks in a big way once again.

The Wichita-based company is the largest hand truck (a two-wheeled dolly) manufacturer in the world.

In 2008, Ruffin bought California-based Angelus Manufacturing, which gave him a West Coast presence and meant the company would be in Costco and Sears stores there. The acquisition gave Harper quite a few accounts it hadn’t had previously.

Now, Ruffin has done a deal to be in another “major retailer.”

He’s not revealing that retailer yet — look for details in March — but he says it’s a huge deal.

Ruffin this week filed a building permit for $310,000 to expand his more than 400,000-square-foot building at 1522 S. Florence.

“We needed the additional space to accommodate that new business that’s coming on,” he says.

Ruffin will also hire an additional 20 to 25 employees in March to make the hand trucks.