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.”

Al’s Old & New Book Store to be first tenant at Block One retail center

booksWICHITA — The new retail center attached to the parking garage at Block One has its first tenant, and it may be an unexpected one.

Anita Siemer is going to move her Al’s Old & New Book Store from Delano, where it’s been for almost six decades, to the new downtown development.

Slawson Cos. is handling leasing at the 8,400-square-foot center. Slawson broker Jerry Jones says if he could create a list of what he wants at the center, he’d “put a book store right at the top of it.”

“We just feel really good about it,” he says.

So does Siemer, even though she never wanted to move.

The New Covenant United Methodist Church purchased Siemer’s space along with another space next door – at 1710 and 1712 W. Douglas – in order to expand. In April, Siemer expressed concerns about having to move due to cost.

“I can find cheap, crummy spaces in … parts of town that would be scary for after dark, and I can find expensive, nice places here in Delano and downtown, but you know, having to pay so much – like three times as much as I currently pay – I don’t think that’s really looking like it works for me right now,” she said at the time.

Now, she says Slawson Cos. has “gotten creative to make it so I could come into the space really in better shape than anything I found in Delano.”

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Oil and gas and real estate developer Don Slawson dies of Alzheimer’s complications

WICHITA — Longtime Wichita businessman Don Slawson has died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease.

“My father passed away early this morning,” says Todd Slawson, the youngest of three Slawson sons and Denver-based president of his family’s oil company.

Mr. Slawson was a fixture in the Wichita business community for decades.

“He was very much an entrepreneur,” says Jerry Jones, a commercial broker at Slawson Cos.

“He had a very strong passion for business,” Todd Slawson says.

After graduating from the University of Kansas with a political science degree and a minor in geology, Mr. Slawson worked briefly for a drilling company before starting his own oil and gas business in 1957.

“His love … initially was oil and gas,” Todd Slawson says. “He was one of the most active drillers in the state of Kansas for many years.”

Then, in the 1970s, Mr. Slawson began buying land in Wichita.

“As he would tell it, he saw … that he wanted to diversify his business,” Jones says.

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Firehouse Subs is first tenant at new strip center at NewMarket Square

WICHITA — Slawson Cos. is preparing to start building a strip center in front of the SuperTarget at NewMarket Square later this month and has landed its first tenant for it: Firehouse Subs.

“We acquired from Target an outparcel basically in front of their NewMarket Square store that’ll be just north of the Intrust Bank … branch bank,” says Slawson’s Jerry Jones.

Firehouse Subs will be in 2,000 square feet on the north end of the 10,000-square-foot center.

Jones says two other potential deals for the center are in advance stages of negotiation. If they happen, that would leave 2,800 square feet to lease to a tenant or 1,400 square feet each for two tenants.

Firehouse Subs franchisees Dana and Troy Todd would like to do five of the restaurants in the greater Wichita area. Franchisees Megan and Andrew Reece opened Wichita’s first Firehouse late last year at Eastgate Plaza at Kellogg and Rock Road.

Dana Todd says NewMarket Square is a great place to open Firehouse.

“It’s a well-established area, and it seems to be continuing to grow.”

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Sleep Number to open at NewMarket Square

WICHITA — A new Sleep Number store is opening at NewMarket Square at 21st and Maize Road this summer.

The 2,500-square-foot store will open in the former Verizon Wireless space in the same center as Bella Luna Cafe.

Verizon expanded to part of the University of Phoenix’s former space. That’s in the same building as Kay Jewelers and Scottrade.

Sleep Number is part of Select Comfort Corp. of Minneapolis.

April Reed of Slawson Cos. handled the deal.

Look for more information closer to the store’s opening.

Pat Ayars, co-founder of Oxford Senior Living, dies of complications from cancer

Pat Ayars

Pat Ayars

WICHITA — Longtime Wichita businessman Pat Ayars died Wednesday morning following complications from cancer.

“He was an eternal optimist, so regardless of how awful he might have felt, he put a smile on his face,” said Coryanne Graham, marketing and brand manager at Oxford Senior Living, which Ayars co-founded in 2010.

“This is something that Pat has been dealing with for a number of months and had no reason to believe it wasn’t going to come to a good conclusion,” Graham said.

“He’d say … ‘I’m going to get better. We’re going to do this. We’re going to do that.’”

Ayars, who would have turned 56 on Friday, was Oxford’s president.

“In recent months, Pat had positioned the company to transition his responsibilities so that his vision for Oxford would continue long after he was gone,” chief operating officer Jason Wiley said in a statement.

“He ensured this company would never hinge on just one person, but no one could ever fill his shoes fully. Pat was a tremendous motivator and visionary.”

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Verizon Wireless converts NewMarket Square store to Smart Store

WICHITA — The newly expanded Verizon Wireless at NewMarket Square opens Thursday with a new concept.

“We are opening what we call a Smart Store,” says spokeswoman Brenda Hill.

“We’ve really completely redesigned the customer experience inside the store,” she says. “Now the way the store is organized is … really focused on the way that customers use wireless.”

Only 100 of Verizon’s 1,700 stores across the country have this concept so far, and this will be the first one in Wichita and second one in Kansas.

“This is a big deal for us to have one of the first,” Hill says.

She says an employee called an experience specialist will greet customers when they enter the store.

“A lot of times customers come in the store, and they really don’t know what they need,” Hill says. There’s a lot “that they don’t know wireless can help them with.”

She says that might include ways to save money on home energy or devices to measure fitness goals.

The store will have four major zones to cater to various needs.

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Verizon Wireless to expand at NewMarket Square and Tallgrass Centre

WICHITA — Verizon Wireless is expanding two of its Wichita stores, which both happen to be at Slawson Cos. properties.

The chain has a new store under construction at NewMarket Square at 21st and Maize Road, where there has been an expansion boom of late.

“We’ve had a lot of stores over the last couple of years that have expanded,” says April Reed, who handled the Verizon deals.

That includes expansions by Maurices, Personally Yours, Hallmark and Starbucks.

“We’ve been on a roll in terms of tenants expanding,” Reed says.

Verizon currently has 2,500 square feet in the same building as Bella Luna Cafe. In the first quarter of 2014, it will be moving to 5,200 square feet and taking most of the University of Phoenix’s former space. That’s in the same building as Kay Jewelers and Scottrade.

“It’ll be an updated space,” Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Hill says of the store.

Reed says there are 1,400 square feet of the former university space left to lease.

At Slawson’s Tallgrass Centre development on the southwest corner of 21st and North Rock Road, Verizon is expanding as well.

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G.J. Gardner Homes Wichita to open at the Shops at Tallgrass

WICHITA –  Wade Wilkinson has been building homes in El Dorado, Wichita and Augusta since 2000, but he wants to expand his Wichita business so he’s moving his office here and rebranding his company.

Wilkinson Construction will now be G.J. Gardner Homes Wichita in the Shops at Tallgrass at 21st and Rock Road.

“It’s essentially a sales office,” Wilkinson says of the 2,250-square-foot space in the retail center.

Wilkinson had been looking online for new estimating and scheduling software when he discovered the Australian-based G.J. Gardner franchise.

“That’s exactly what I need right there,” he says he thought.

There are more than 1,000 floor plans with marketing materials included, and Wilkinson says the G.J. Gardner warranties are better than anything he could offer on his own.

“I really, really liked it,” he says.

By having space at the Shops at Tallgrass, Wilkinson says customers can stop in and select from displays for things such as kitchens, granite, carpet and tile.

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Blue Balloon salon to open in the Shops at Tallgrass in memory of husband

Kayme Pumphrey with her children Madden (left) and Addison, and her late husband, Bryan, who is the inspiration behind Blue Balloon.

WICHITA — Kayme Pumphrey owns a successful employment agency in Chicago and had no plans to open another business until personal tragedy struck.

Pumphrey’s husband, Bryan, died unexpectedly a year ago.

“It’s been a rough year,” says Pumphrey, who is raising their children Addison, 6, and Madden, 4.

“Trying to sort of get through that is very hard without family,” Pumphrey says.

She decided to move home to her native Wichita, where family can help her.

“It just sort of seemed like the only option for us.”

The move did give her a business idea, though.

“It was very apparent to me that there were lots of luxuries that I was sort of used to having that we didn’t have here,” Pumphrey says.

She still owns the employment agency but also decided to open Blue Balloon, a hair salon and playroom for children that will open in the Shops at Tallgrass at 21st and Rock Road in late September.

“It’s actually done in honor or in memory of my husband,” Pumphrey says.

“It’s just a nice thing for me to be able to put my energy into and obviously carry on his memory for me and for our kids.”

Her husband’s favorite color was blue.

“It’s just very much him,” Pumphrey says. “And balloons go to heaven.”

The shop’s design will include a mural with photos of the couple’s 2006 trip to Africa and feature things reminiscent of the trip, such as a plane and two open-air vehicles for children to sit in as they have their hair done.

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