Trove Total Body Studio to move to Renfro

WICHITA — A year after opening at the Finn Lofts, Janelle Robertson has decided to move her Trove Total Body Studio to the new Renfro at 612 E. Douglas.

“I am on the move,” she says.

Robertson is the first commercial tenant in the building, and she’s taking one of the live-work spaces but will use both areas for her business instead of living there.

Developers Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey, in collaboration with Farha Construction, recently finished converting the former Victoria Park Apartments into the Renfro.

The building, which is named for a hotel that was once there, has 20 apartments, including several live-work units.

Robertson says she thinks her expanded space at the Renfro will be ideal.

“Just the configuration for me and what I’ve been doing here so far just fit better,” she says.

Trove offers facials, massage, chemical peels, body treatments and micro dermabrasion.

“Really just about everything you’d want in a spa,” Robertson says.

On the second floor of her studio — what typically would be the bedroom in the live-work arrangement — Robertson will have massages and facials.

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Renfro apartments ready to debut

UPDATED — There will be more than art on display downtown for the Oct. 26 Final Friday.

Developers Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey, in collaboration with Farha Construction, also are introducing their new Renfro apartments, including some gallery space in the first floor hallway of the historic building.

The property was built at 612 E. Douglas in 1908 and once was home to the Renfro hotel. Most recently, it was Victoria Park Apartments.

“It’s a building that needed a lot of love,” Ramsey says.

He applied for the building to be on the National Register of Historic Places and was able to use historic tax credits in renovating it.

“We love being part of giving a building another 100 years of life,” says contractor Ted Farha. “There’s something pretty special about that.

“When it comes to sustainability or green building, really, I don’t think there’s anything greener than taking an existing building and bringing it up to date.”

There are 20 units, including a few live-work units with metal spiral staircases between the work and living spaces. There also are two commercial spaces in the front of the building. Those spaces are still available. Four of the apartments, including one live-work space, are leased.

There are unique touches throughout the building, such as original ceiling tins in some apartments, a garage door in one back unit and glass brick where another garage door once was.

Ramsey says he, Eyster and Farha Construction incorporated a lot of what they learned from renovating the Zelman Lofts building just down the street.

“The things that worked we tried to keep,” he says.

That includes open areas and ambient light.

“People will put up with smaller living space if we give them lots of storage, lots of shared light, lots of open area … and we give them nice kitchens and nice bathrooms.”

They found substantial savings by having Farha build cabinets in each of the units instead of buying them.

There are further savings for renters with high efficiency heating and air and LED lighting.

“We employed all the current technology that’s available to make this building as green as possible without going through . . . all the LEED Certification stuff,” Farha says. “It’s really satisfying to be able to do that. To create great living spaces for people.”

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Developers Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey rename Victoria Park Apartments the Renfro and buy Newton property

WICHITA — Developers Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey, in collaboration with Farha Construction, have started demolition work in preparation for restoring the former Victoria Park Apartments.

They’re renaming the 1908 building the Renfro after a hotel that used to be there. A faded “Renfro Hotel” is still visible on the east side of the building at 612 E. Douglas.

“I just said, ‘How about the Renfro? That’s kind of cool,’” Ted Farha says of renaming the building.

They’re planning 20 apartments – including five two-story spaces that will double as living and office space – and two retail or office spaces along Douglas.

Ramsey says the project will be a historic renovation.

“We’re going to get it on the national historic register,” he says. “It ensures the longevity of the building. It also opens up the opportunity to use … national tax credits if we choose to use them.”

Farha expects renovation to be complete in five or six months.

Eyster and Ramsey have purchased another historic property in Newton.

“We’re converting a medical building into some apartments there as well,” Farha says.

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Robert Eyster purchases the former Protection One building with plans for new residential and commercial development

WICHITA — It’s getting to the point you can’t call Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey nascent developers any longer.

Eyster has purchased the former Protection One building at the northwest corner of First and Market, which makes the sixth downtown property he’s bought to redevelop in less than a year.

“In the process of looking for buildings that have kind of been neglected or buildings that are too big or too small for people . . . we’ve looked at probably all the buildings downtown,” Ramsey said.

That’s how they found the 7-story, 171,000-square-foot Protection One building, which the former Kansas Gas and Electric Co. built in 1953.

“That building has got some very dynamic bones to it,” Ramsey said. “It just spoke to us.”

He and Eyster are renaming the building the Lux and creating luxury apartments and possible condos along with commercial on the first two floors.

“It sounds like a really exciting development,” said Patrick Ahern of Grubb & Ellis/Martens Commercial Group, who was one of the agents who handled the deal.

Ahern, who specializes in downtown properties, said, “More people living downtown will attract more retail and give more vibrance to downtown and that area in particular.”

He said the sale of that much Class B downtown property “potentially helps the market because it’s less space for other buildings to compete with.”

Ahern and Steve Martens represented Protection One, and Marty Gilchrist and Grant Tidemann of J.P. Weigand & Sons represented Eyster.

Eyster has already purchased and is redeveloping the former Zelman building, the Board of Trade building, Victoria Park Apartments, the two-story building at 100 S. Market and Kelly Donham’s former property on Douglas between Main and Market.

With the help of Kansas City, Mo., architect El Dorado Inc., which designed the Finn Lofts on Commerce Street, Eyster and Ramsey hope to use a lot of the 1950s architectural elements already in the mid-century modern building. That includes light fixtures, door knobs and railings.

“They have actually cataloged everything they could in the KGE building in the hopes we . . . could repurpose those elements,” Ramsey said.

Farha Construction is the contractor and Builders Inc. is managing the building.

“This is really going to be a unique facility,” said Larry Weber of Builders Inc.

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Robert Eyster hits the trifecta with his acquisition of 100 S. Market

WICHITA — Developer Robert Eyster has purchased another downtown building.

Michael Ramsey, who is working with Eyster on several downtown projects, says Eyster has acquired the more than 20,000-square-foot, two-story building at 100 S. Market.

“It’s not a very exciting building — yet,” Ramsey says.

This follows Eyster’s purchase of the Board of Trade building at 120 S. Market earlier this summer along with Kelly Donham’s former property on Douglas Avenue between Main and Market streets that became known for a giant hole in the ground.

They’re also renovating and repurposing the Zelman building and the Victoria Park Apartments downtown.

Ramsey says the building at 100 S. Market is “an integral part of the trifecta of the old Donham property and the Board of Trade.”

“Now that we’ve secured all three of the key players in the plan, we can go forth with what the next step is.”

Except they’re not revealing that next step yet.

Ramsey says he’ll share news in a month or so.

Leisa Lowry with J.P. Weigand & Sons and Marlin Penner with NAI John T. Arnold Associates handled the deal for 100 S. Market.

“It holds enormous promise,” Ramsey says.

Robert Eyster purchases the Board of Trade building and plans another renovation

WICHITA — The Board of Trade building at 120 S. Market is the latest acquisition for nascent downtown developer Robert Eyster.

“He’s planning on doing a complete remodel with it,” says Michael Ramsey, who is working with Eyster on several downtown projects.

They’re renovating and repurposing the Zelman building and the Victoria Park Apartments. They’ve also recently acquired property along Douglas Avenue between Main and Market streets where developer Kelly Donham previously had plans.

The Board of Trade renovation will be in conjunction with plans Eyster and Ramsey have for the Douglas property.

Ramsey won’t share all the details yet, but he says, “It’s following the Goody Clancy plan of changes they feel should be happening downtown.”

Part of Ramsey’s hesitation to talk just yet is due to potential city involvement.

“We’re really trying to work with the city through the project.”

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Developers Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey have plans for Kelly Donham’s former hole in the ground

UPDATED — Developers Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey have added another downtown project to their plate.

“We took over the pit,” Ramsey says of the hole in the ground that developer Kelly Donham previously owned.

The property is on Douglas Avenue between Main and Market streets.

“I can’t tell you exactly what we’re going to do right now,” Ramsey says.

He does, though, say that it will be a multiuse building.

“It’s going to be in conjunction with some other things going on . . . on Market Street.

The developers are about to acquire more property on South Market Street.

It’s close to where the hole in the ground is, but it’s not adjacent to it.

Donham still owns the building where the Woolf Brothers department store used to be at Market and Douglas.

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Zelman building developers to also transform nearby Victoria Park Apartments

WICHITA — It looks like developers Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey are working on another project just down from where they’re transforming the Zelman building at Douglas and St. Francis.

They’re not talking just yet, but the two are planning to remodel the Victoria Park Apartments, which are now low-income housing, at 612 E. Douglas.

Eyster and Ramsey plan studio and one-bedroom apartments for the 18,000-square-foot building’s second and third floors.

They’re apparently contemplating event space for the first floor.

Eyster and Ramsey have already begun work on the former Zelman building, where they plan apartments, offices and a restaurant.

Look for more information on the Victoria Park Apartments soon.