Tony Utter surprises fellow brokers as the Wichita Executive Centre’s new listing agent

Other brokers may question what he’s doing, but Tony Utter is confident in the future of the Wichita Executive Centre.

UPDATED — Some of Tony Utter’s fellow commercial brokers have had a recurring question for him since learning he’s taken over the listing for Real Development’s Wichita Executive Centre.

“Basically, was I out of my mind?”

Utter, who owns Utter Commercial Real Estate, acknowledges financial and other issues the Minnesota Guys and the building at 125 N. Market have faced in recent years.

“It’s been a topic of conversation quite a bit lately,” he says.

Calvin Klaassen, who works with Utter, will be helping him with the leasing.

“We did a lot of research before we agreed to it,” Utter says. “It was only after we were satisfied and reached … a high comfort level that we agreed to do this.”

Maintenance and other issues at the building aren’t all that had Utter concerned.

“We wanted to be very careful, very cautious before we agreed to take on a building of this size,” he says.

The 19-story, more than 300,000-square-foot building has about 80,000 vacant square feet of office space and about 100,000 vacant square feet of former hotel space. Utter says it’s the second-tallest office building in the state next to the neighboring Epic Center.

“This is the most complicated office building that I’ve ever been involved with,” Utter says. “It has a long history in Wichita.”

He’s had some history there already himself.

Utter was the leasing agent for the building for eight months before Real Development purchased it in 2007.

“So I’m back,” he says.

There are a few reasons Utter agreed to get involved.

No. 1, he is confident that his firm and any vendors will get paid.

“The good thing is that the lender is heavily involved,” Utter says of Security National Capital of Salt Lake City.

“We’re expecting a lot of assistance from other real estate brokers, and they want assurances that they’re going to be paid,” Utter says. “We depend heavily on working with other brokers. We consider them as part of our team.”

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Westar Energy posts shut-off notice at Real Development’s Farmers and Bankers Building downtown

WICHITA — Real Development’s problems with maintenance issues and unhappy tenants and vendors aren’t confined to the Wichita Executive Centre.

There are also headaches for the Minnesota Guys at the Farmers and Bankers Building at 200 E. First St. and the Landmark Building at 212 N. Market. The buildings are attached.

Westar Energy put up a delinquent notice at the Farmers and Bankers Building to shut off power on Oct. 7.

“There isn’t trouble,” says partner Michael Elzufon. “If there’s a notice, I guess it’s arguably about whether or not it’s premature.”

Partner Dave Lundberg says Real Development owes $10,000 on its energy bill and Westar also is demanding $10,000 for a utility deposit.

“We have never had a shut-off of a utility of any kind at any time in any building — period,” Elzufon says.

He wonders if this is a scare tactic on Westar’s part.

“I don’t know what you call this,” he says. “It’s rather interesting that these kinds of playing the laundry out in the middle of the world (happen). It’s a little frustrating . . . to say the least.”

In an e-mail, a Westar spokeswoman said she can’t discuss private account information.

“However, we are working with this customer to remedy the situation.”

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Notice to vacate is all that’s left from a Lone Star Business Solutions dispute at the Wichita Executive Centre

WICHITA — Late last year, Have You Heard? reported that Lone Star Business Solutions would be leaving Wichita this summer.

The company was part of the Dallas-based Lone Star Funds, which in late 2006 bought the group of restaurants that Wichita’s Jamie Coulter once owned.

Lone Star Business Solutions is now gone, but there’s still a notice to vacate on the door to its former 16,000-square-foot office on the 13th floor of the Wichita Executive Centre.

That’s the Real Development property at 125 N. Market that’s gotten attention recently for air conditioning and other maintenance issues.

“Initially, there was a dispute as to the amount owed for the early termination,” says Real Development’s Michael Elzufon.

The notice says the company owed almost $55,000 for May and June rent plus interest.

“We worked through it and made the resolution,” Elzufon says. “Everybody shook hands. That’s it. We’re done.”

He says the issue was a bigger deal than it might have been because of the work his company did to renovate the space for Lone Star.

“It was a very significant investment on our part,” he says. “We were certainly . . . hoping they were a long-term tenant.”

Elzufon says the company’s move had nothing to do with issues at the building.

“It was an unfortunate setback not unlike the whole economy and a number of other fun things that have come our way in the last couple of years.”

Tax Adjustment Specialists sues Real Development over $18,000

WICHITA — The $5.6 million mortgage that “Minnesota GuysDave Lundberg and Michael Elzufon recently received helped with one headache, but hardly all of them.

“We just paid out $5 million to cure all our problems at the (Wichita) Executive Centre two weeks ago, and now we’re working on the balance of the problems,” Lundberg says.

It’s not fast enough for Wichita’s Tax Adjustment Specialists, though.

Real Development, Lundberg and Elzufon’s company, owes the group about $18,000 for help with tax appeals a couple of years ago.

Tax Adjustment Specialists helped Real Development save about $61,000 by appealing to the county to lower appraisals on a few of its buildings.

That’s not in dispute.

There’s a court date Friday, though, over a civil suit Tax Adjustment Specialists filed in Sedgwick County District Court over lack of payment.

“We were supposed to be paid at that (loan) closing, and we weren’t,” says attorney Jim McIntyre, who is representing the tax group.

“They made a promise to us that if we sort of put things in limbo (while waiting for the loan) then we would be paid in full,” McIntyre says. “That hasn’t transpired.”

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Lone Star Business Solutions to close, leaving no Lone Star offices in Wichita

UPDATED — As of mid next year, there will no longer be any Lone Star operations in Wichita.

“There was a decision to wind down . . . the management offices here in Wichita,” says Jan Dietrich, chief operating officer of Lone Star Business Solutions.

That office is part of the Dallas-based Lone Star Funds, which in late 2006 bought the group of restaurants that Wichita’s Jamie Coulter once owned.

Lone Star Funds is a global investment firm that happens to share the name of the restaurant group’s flagship business.

The group’s restaurants include Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon, Texas Land & Cattle Steak House, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House and Sullivan’s Steakhouse.

Management at those restaurants made the decision to outsource the services Lone Star Business Services has been providing, which includes handling payroll, accounting and human resource functions.

Last year, Lone Star Funds moved the restaurant management offices from Wichita to its Dallas headquarters.

Lone Star Business Solutions remained in Wichita at the Wichita Executive Centre at 125 N. Market.

Now, its services will be handled by InfoSync Services in Wichita.

“After careful consideration, it was determined that this was the best decision given the company’s efforts to streamline operations . . . and invest in other aspects of the ongoing business — that being the actual restaurant concepts,” Dietrich says.

“We’re optimistic that InfoSync will have an opportunity to look at hiring some of our people that are being impacted by this decision.”

That’s about 50 people.

“We regret the impact to the employees,” Dietrich says. “There’s a lot of good, long-term, dedicated employees, and they’ve worked hard.”

Exchange Place LLC and DGL Investments LLC settle claim with Berkley Insurance

WICHITA — Exchange Place LLC and DGL Investments LLC have settled with their insurance company over 2007 damages by copper thieves to Exchange Place at Douglas and Market.

“It was extensive,” Real Development partner Dave Lundberg says of the damage, which he estimates was in the $10 million range. “Just about everything in the building, quite frankly.”

Real Development is developing the Exchange Place project.

A previously postponed trial was scheduled to start in Sedgwick County District Court on Tuesday.

Lundberg says he’s been in negotiations with Phoenix-based Berkley Insurance since the vandalism occurred.

“One of the things the insurance company said is, ‘You’re going to gut the building anyway.’ ”

Lundberg can’t discuss the settlement, though he says it was nowhere near what the damage was.

“It allows us to fix what has to be fixed in order to convert it to (a) residential project,” he says. “We’re going to wait until the project’s finally approved until we know what the final use is.”

Lundberg says the Exchange Place project is separate from Real Development’s Wichita Executive Centre project, which his company is refinancing in order to pay vendors.

He says the Exchange Place insurance money can’t be used on the other project.

Still, it’s a good start to the week for Lundberg, who has been sick with pneumonia for the past three weeks.

“We got an insurance settlement, and my pneumonia went away.”

Snap Fitness is still closed, and the owners aren’t saying why

WICHITA — On Monday, Snap Fitness franchisee Paul Johnson didn’t have many answers about why his fitness center abruptly shut its doors at the Wichita Executive Centre over the weekend.

He said he and his partners would have news Tuesday, but he didn’t return calls for comment.

“It sounds like you’ve had a chance to speak with him more than I have,” says Patrick Strait, communications manager for the Minnesota-based chain.

Strait says he’s “basically just trying to understand what the heck happened.”

He says his office was flooded with calls from members wondering what’s going on.

“I guess them and us both for the most part,” Strait says. “We didn’t have any advance notice.

“Every once in a while . . . we kind of get blindsided by this, too.”

Snap Fitness unexpectedly closed this weekend but will reopen soon, co-owner says

WICHITA — Though a lot of people look for any excuse they can to avoid working out, there were some frustrated Snap Fitness members who couldn’t use the 24-hour downtown fitness center this weekend.

The business, which is in the Wichita Executive Centre at 125 N. Market, unexpectedly closed Saturday.

“Basically, we’re in a disagreement with a couple of other owners,” co-owner Paul Johnson says.

Johnson won’t go into specifics, but he says he’ll share more information Tuesday.

“It’s all figured out,” Johnson says of some possible changes in ownership that are coming. “It’s just a matter of completing it.

“We should be back up and running shortly.”

A second Snap Fitness is still on target to open in December at 3300 N. Rock Road under different ownership.

Blue Diamond Energy to move into former Real Development office at Broadway Plaza

WICHITA — Earlier this summer, Have You Heard? reported when the Minnesota Guys moved their Real Development office out of Broadway Plaza and into the Wichita Executive Centre.

Now, Blue Diamond Energy is moving into the almost 3,300-square-foot space the Minnesota Guys vacated on the first floor of Broadway Plaza, which is at the southwest corner of Douglas and Broadway.

“That gives us a little bit of a storefront, if you will,” says president Ryan Schweizer.

He and business partner Travis Forsberg, who previously was president of Sapphire Energy of Wichita, made the decision.

Blue Diamond is mainly a petroleum land services company that consults with businesses across the country, but its primary client base is here.

Specifically, they are a lot of the same people who will be heading to the Petroleum Club across the street and to the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association, which also is in Broadway Plaza.

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Pat Ayars and partners form Oxford Development Holdings to build and acquire senior centers

oxford

Jason Wiley (from left), Pat Ayars, Eric Legleiter and Chris Dennis of Oxford Development Holdings.

WICHITA — Since Key Construction fired him in January, former vice president Pat Ayars has been doing quite a bit of consulting.

Now, he and three others have formed their own company, Oxford Development Holdings, to build and acquire senior care centers.

“I’ve had more fun in the last six months than — to be frank with you — than I had in the previous 10 years,” says Ayars, who is president.

Chris Dennis, who most recently was CFO at Occidental Management, is Oxford’s CFO.

Jason Wiley, who is COO, and Eric Legleiter, who is executive vice president, have a combined 40 years in the senior housing industry with various companies in Wichita.

Ayars says through the years, he’s done a lot of work with senior housing from the construction side.

“I was always impressed with the opportunity that was available,” he says.

He says the baby boomer generation has started hitting retirement age and will peak in size in about 2030.

“There’s a huge growing need for this industry,” Ayars says.

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