Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas to move to New Leaf Plaza

UPDATED — The Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas is turning over a New Leaf, so to speak, and moving to the shopping center of the same name at 21st and Amidon.

“It is very accessible and very visible for the public,” says Keith Lawing, president and CEO of the agency that connects workers with employers.

“I really think it’s going to be a perfect location for their new home, although some would have liked for it to stay downtown, I suppose,” says City Council member Jeff Longwell.

“They are at least for a little bit going to keep some of the administration stuff down in the Garvey building,” he says.

The Workforce Alliance had been at the former Commerce Bank building at First and Main downtown and had to scramble to find new space along with other tenants there when building issues, such as a broken elevator and suspended gas service, forced them to go elsewhere.

A site a few blocks down from First and Washington is where the Workforce Alliance temporarily is until the new space is ready.

Lawing says parking had become an issue where the Workforce Alliance was at First and Main.

“We definitely looked downtown,” he says seeking new space. “If we could have found a place that would have been adjacent to a parking garage … it would have been great.”

He says no such place could be found.

Longwell says that initially the Workforce Alliance will take about 26,000 square feet at New Leaf, which is on the southwest corner of the intersection and is home to a Walmart Neighborhood Market.

He says it “is going to be a really nice space.”

“It’s a good location, easily accessible, on a bus route,” Longwell says. “I really like that whole area. It’s kind of coming back a little bit.”

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Mattress Firm to open at New Leaf Plaza

WICHITA — Mattress Firm, which just opened a new store near Central and I-235, is opening another new store on the west side. This one will go in the former Hollywood Video space at New Leaf Plaza, the shopping center at 21st and Amidon that used to be known as Marina Lakes. This will make the chain’s seventh Wichita store.

“If you look at the map of Wichita, we’ve got most of the shopping areas covered,” says franchisee Emmanuel Giannas, who has two partners in the business.

Giannas says the time is right to go to that area.

“That was once a very much highly shopped area,” he says.

With the addition of the Walmart Neighborhood Market at New Leaf, Giannas expects it to be a popular area once again.

“It’s going to bring back a lot of shopping to the area.”

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Habitat for Humanity ReStore to move to Plaza West and double in size

WICHITA — The Habitat for Humanity ReStore shop is doubling its space with a move to the Plaza West shopping center at the southwest corner of Central and West.

“We are just growing,” says director Katrina McGuigan. “We’re getting a lot of good stuff coming in from our donors and just needed to find a bigger showroom floor space.”

The ReStore shop is a retail discount home improvement store that has new and used merchandise donated by the public.

“We exist to support Habitat for Humanity,” McGuigan says.

The current showroom is 6,000 square feet at the southwest corner of Harry and Hillside. The new one will be 12,000 square feet and have 3,000 square feet more for storage.

“Our loyal customers will easily follow us,” McGuigan says. “And we’ll have a whole new, fresh set of customers on that side of town.”

She says the new store will be in a more visible, high-traffic area with a Walmart Neighborhood Market in the same center and Dillons across the street.

“This just makes all the sense in the world for us.”

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NuWay to return to 21st and Amidon area

WICHITA — It’s been a long time coming, but NuWay finally is returning to the 21st and Amidon area.

The restaurant is going to open west of the intersection at 2135 W. 21st St., which will make the sixth NuWay in Wichita for the 82-year-old chain.

The Lotus Garden had been in that spot for 25 years. It was torn down earlier this week.

“We’ve been trying to open this thing for a year and a half,” says Chris Stong, director of operations.

It was about two decades ago that the NuWay closed at Twin Lakes on the southeast corner of the intersection.

“It was an absolutely fantastic location,” Stong says.

Then, occupancy faltered at the development, he says, and the restaurant left. Stong says he and his family have long wanted to open a new restaurant in the area.

“We think the neighborhood is fantastic,” he says. “Obviously, with everything else going on in the area, it’s a great location.”

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A-OK Pawn Shops owner Bruce Harris to start Better Living lease-to-own business

WICHITA — A-OK Pawn Shops owner Bruce Harris is starting a new lease-to-own furniture business that he hopes will become a chain of stores.

“It’s a brand-new concept we’re coming up with,” he says of Better Living.

The first store will open in 35,000 square feet at the Marina Lakes Shopping Center at 21st and Amidon next to where Harris is opening a new pawn shop, jewelry store and phone store along with a tax services, payday loans and check cashing center.

“Other large chains of pawn shops around the country are starting to do this,” he says.

Harris says he wants to “give people a better choice” on furniture, appliances and TVs.

“We’re going to try to upscale that,” he says.

Harris says he’s starting the concept in response to customers’ requests.

“We’re giving them an additional option,” he says. “It’s very similar to the retail side of our pawn business.”

Most of the first Better Living will be in the former Hollywood Video space at Marina Lakes. An additional 10,000 square feet for storage will come from the strip center next door.

If the business is successful, Harris says he’ll add a Better Living to his pawn shop complex at Harry and Oliver next.

Eventually, he says he wants to expand the centers – including the Better Living stores – to Hutchinson and the Kansas City market.

“We’re becoming a developer rather than just a pawn shop.”

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CVS may come to the Wichita market, starting at 21st and Amidon

WICHITA — It appears CVS is working on a deal at the northwest corner of 21st and Amidon, though no one involved is talking.

CVS has been playing a little hard to get with Wichita for the last several years.

In 2006, Have You Heard? reported that the Rhode Island-based company completed its acquisition of 700 Sav-On and Osco drug stores, including 22 in Kansas. A spokesman said that meant Wichita’s three Osco stores – on North Amidon, South Seneca and East Harry – would convert to CVS stores along with 19 others around the state.

Less than a month later, Osco employees here were informed their stores would be closing instead.

Then, in late 2008, sources confirmed that CVS was in the market scouting locations.

For the last few years, phone books have still been running a phone number – although it’s not working – for CVS at 2323 N. Amidon. That’s the former Osco space. There aren’t listings for the other former Osco sites, so it’s led some people to wonder if that’s because CVS is returning to the 21st and Amidon area.

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Planet Fitness signs two new deals

WICHITA — There are deals for two new Wichita Planet Fitness sites, though the chain still isn’t talking about its plans here.

Have You Heard? previously reported that the company is working on locations in the former Star Lumber space at Normandie Center at Central and Woodlawn, at Marina Lakes at 21st and Amidon where a new Walmart Neighborhood Market is and also at the 21st and Maize area.

Since then, Scott Harper of Landmark Commercial Real Estate and Grant Tidemann of J.P. Weigand & Sons finalized a deal for the Marina Lakes space.

On Friday, Tidemann and Landmark’s Nick Esterline finalized a deal for the former bowling alley space at 2350 N. Maize Road. That’s where Countryside West Lanes closed in 2007.

It looks like there may already be demo work going on at the possible Planet Fitness space at Normandie.

Planet Fitness isn’t the only new gym coming to the city.

Gold’s Gym International also has been working on sites here. In fact, it appears it was negotiating for some of the same space Planet Fitness nabbed.

Earlier this year, Have You Heard? reported that a Gold’s deal at Harry and Rock may already be done.

Both companies are being similarly silent. We should hear something from them soon, though.

 

More CherryBerry Self-Serve Yogurt Bars coming to greater Wichita area

WICHITA — No sooner had the Orange Leaf item been published today came confirmation that more CherryBerry Self-Serve Yogurt Bar sites are planned for the area.

Derby residents Candace and Terry Wright are opening the area’s first CherryBerry at Derby Marketplace in Derby.

Construction has begun, but there’s no opening date yet.

Utah-based CherryBerry franchisees Dan Watkins and Chad Curtis signed a lease for a 2,300-square-foot CherryBerry in the retail center in front of the new Walmart Neighborhood Market at Central and Maize.

“We hope to do around five as quickly as possible,” Curtis says.

He and Watkins have Little Caesars Pizza franchises in Tulsa near where CherryBerry is based.

They wanted to get into the yogurt business and liked CherryBerry the best.

The Tulsa market was already taken, and Wichita was the next-closest spot. They’re also looking at a Kansas City site.

The first Wichita CherryBerry, which will have indoor and outdoor seating, will open by the middle of summer.

Ken-Mar Family Drugs to close after almost 40 years to make way for Walmart

UPDATED — After almost 40 years of being a thriving part of the neighborhood around 13th and Oliver, Ken-Mar Family Drugs at Providence Square is closing to make way for a Walmart Neighborhood Market.

“Man, I hate to see them go out of business. Wow,” says Stanette Hawkins, who worked at the drug store in the 1980s. “I just can’t believe that.”

Owner and pharmacist Darrel Steinshouer is rather surprised himself.

The landlord “sent me a letter. You got 60 days to get out.”

Saturday is the last day in business.

“It’s a loss,” Steinshouer says. “It’s just been part of my life.”

He and his pharmacist wife, Sylvia, and their store have been integral to people’s lives in that area through the decades after they opened in 1972.

“It’s amazing because everybody has a story,” says Carla Eckels, a reporter with KMUW, 89.1-FM.

Eckels used to work for Ken-Mar Family Drugs and says four generations of her family have shopped there.

The Steinshouers “just really have helped people in this community,” Eckels says.

“This one little lady came in and said, ‘Darrel, can you give me my white pills?’

“Now, there are thousands of white pills, and he went right on back. It was amazing. I just went, ‘How in the world?’ ”

The Steinshouers are residents of College Hill, but their lives have revolved around the 13th and Oliver neighborhood.

“I actually know the people in this community better than where we live,” Sylvia Steinshouer says.

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