Former Ryan International Airlines and Southwestern Bell building sells downtown

WICHITA — It’s not every day that a bunker sells downtown, but that’s what Craig Simon says happened today.

The former Ryan International Airlines building at 266 N. Main St., which was built for Southwestern Bell in the late 1960s, sold.

“It’s a very unique building,” says Simon, a broker with Landmark Commercial Real Estate who handled the sale. “It’s like a bunker.”

The approximately 54,000-square-foot building has 14-inch walls and can withstand 200-mile-an-hour winds. Though it’s only two stories, it is built to hold six.

“If there’s a storm, there’s no breakage in coverage,” Simon says.

He says it’s a data company’s dream, and there are two such companies – Level 3 Communications and Hubris Communications – in there now.

A contractor and some other investors are the ones who bought it, though.

Tom Schmeidler of SBA Construction, his brothers and another investor purchased the property out of foreclosure.

“It has potential to become a very, very good building again,” Schmeidler says. “It’s in the best part of downtown that you could hope for for an office building.”

When Rubloff Jet Express purchased Ryan in 2004, it acquired the building.

“They’re not usually in the business of buying office buildings,” Simon says.

Rubloff hired Simon about two years ago to help lease the building. Simon says he was close to signing the Department of Defense and the Small Business Administration last summer when Rubloff, which owns a number of shopping centers, encountered financial difficulties.

“They were struggling with a lot of properties,” Simon says.

Though the building had gone into receivership and Simon wasn’t able to lease to new tenants, he was able to help sell the building.

Complicating the deal was an IRB that Ryan had through the city. It was set to expire next year. The city still had a deed on the building as collateral but agreed to retire the IRB early.

Simon will continue handling leasing at the building, and Landmark will manage it as well.

“There’s a lot of interest right now,” Simon says of about four serious prospects.

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All federal agencies at the 271 Building downtown will by gone by September

WICHITA — By the end of August, all of the federal agencies in the 271 Building at 271 W. Third St. downtown will be gone.

Have You Heard? has written about several of the departures already. What follows is a complete list.

“This was originally an IRS lease at this building, but they returned some of the space, and then we backfilled it with other agencies … which is kind of why everyone is leaving at once,” says Angela Brees, a spokeswoman for the General Services Administration.

The IRS has about 33,000 square feet of the 95,000-square-foot building.

Typically, whenever a federal agency’s lease is up, there has to be a bidding process for new space.

The IRS office and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office are moving to 555 N. Woodlawn. They’re taking about 40,000 square feet there, and there’s another 23,000 square feet available to lease.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration office and the Health and Human Services Inspector General are moving to Phil Ruffin’s Bank of America Center at Broadway and Douglas.

The Small Business Administration is moving to the Page Court Building at the Garvey Center at 220 E. Douglas.

The Defense Contract Audit Agency and the Defense Contract Management Agency are moving to the Lux building at First and Market.

The Railroad Retirement Board has already moved to the Cambridge Office Park south of 21st and Webb Road, and the Citizenship and Immigration Services office has already moved to Ruffin’s building at 550 W. Douglas in Delano.

The status of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Defense Inspector General offices is still unclear.

All of the agencies need to be out of the 271 Building by the end of August when the lease is up.

“We’re still dealing with them on that,” says Trey Ayers, executive vice president of Guthrie, Okla.-based Dominion Properties, which owns the building.

Dominion is seeking new tenants outside of federal agencies.

“We like Wichita, and we like what it’s about,” Ayers says. “Hopefully we can help some other local folks move into the property.”

SBA office to move to the Garvey Center using new streamlined design process

Wayne Bell, district director of the Small Business Administration.

WICHITA — The government is better known for red tape than streamlined processes, but the General Services Administration is working on that, and a change in offices for the Small Business Administration is going to offer something of a test case.

The SBA’s Wichita district office is moving from 271 W. Third St., where the IRS is, to the Page Court Building at the Garvey Center at 220 E. Douglas.

Before the move can happen, there has to be a design phase, which could determine everything from the tint of the windows to security systems in the new office.

“Normally, the process would take … 60 days or more,” says Wayne Bell, the SBA’s district director.

The GSA has a new design intent drawing process that will convene everyone involved in the move — contractors, designers, the SBA, the GSA, a representative for the landlord and anyone else connected with the project.

“You’re going to have all of the players in the room,” Bell says. “With this approach, everything should be complete within a three-day timeframe. It’s a really, really good idea.”

The old way of doing things involved sending drawings to the GSA, then the SBA, which would make changes before sending it back to the GSA. Then the contractor would get the drawings after a protracted period.

“So it could take months,” Bell says.

The design intent drawing creates a condensed timeframe where there’s an on-the-spot rough draft of the SBA’s needs that gets refined immediately with everyone present.

“This is very new,” Bell says. “So it’s going to be kind of an on-the-job learning process.”

The meetings will take place over a three-day period in late October at the Wichita Downtown Development Corp.’s design innovation center.

“What we try to do in that space is make resources available,” says WDDC president Jeff Fluhr.

That includes conference calling and video conferencing.

“We’re thrilled they’re willing to take the opportunity,” Fluhr says of the SBA and GSA. He says the attitude is “let’s walk through it and see what we learn from it.”

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State closes west-side EconoLodge

UPDATED –The state has closed the EconoLodge at 600 S. Holland near Kellogg and Ridge for nonpayment of taxes.

At noon Tuesday, officials from the state Department of Revenue and the Alcoholic Beverage Control seized the assets of Petali Inc., which Bhupendra Patel owns.

Patel couldn’t be reached for comment.

A Tennessee bank, Community South, and the Small Business Administration also have filed to foreclose on the business. There will be a Feb. 29 sheriff’s sale of the property.

According to state documents, Patel owes $230,629.68 in transient guest taxes from October 2008 to December 2010 and $10,157.88 for sales tax in parts of 2010 and 2011. A sheriff’s auction will be scheduled to sell the contents and other assets of the business.

The west-side EconoLodge is not affiliated with the east-side EconoLodge at 8302 E. Kellogg.

 

 

Bill Guy Technology Solutions owner Bill Ramsey is named SBA’s 2011 Kansas Small Business Person of the Year

WICHITA — Bill Ramsey, owner of Bill Guy Technology Solutions, was in his office Thursday morning when he received a letter from the Small Business Administration.

His wife and son were there, too, and saw his face drop.

“My wife was like, ‘What? What’s wrong?’”

Nothing was wrong, but Ramsey couldn’t believe what he was reading was right.

It said the SBA named him the Kansas Small Business Person of the Year for 2011.

“There’s got to be a mistake,” he told his family. “I’m not reading this right.”

So he called the SBA.

“They knew exactly who I was,” Ramsey says. “I’m just stunned.”

Ken Elliott with the Kansas Small Business Development Center nominated Ramsey.

Elliott has been Ramsey’s business counselor.

Ramsey started his business as a one-man shop in 2001 to help businesses manage their computer networks.

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