Bryce Baker is the face of one of downtown’s tallest buildings, 125 N. Market, formerly known as Wichita Executive Centre.
Baker is managing director of corporate real estate for Security National Life Insurance Co., the owner of the 19-story building on Market between Douglas and First streets.
Security National took over the building in 2013 from Minnesota developers Michael Elzufon and Dave Lundberg of Real Development. It was the building’s primary creditor on a $5.6 million bridge loan it made to Real Development in 2011.
Because of his position with the Salt Lake City company, Baker is overseeing about $5 million in improvements that the company first announced in early November. So far, he’s overseen the installation of a new chiller, the hiring of a new leasing agent and property manager, and renovating and updating the common areas of the building, with work that started on the 17th floor.
Baker said his primary role in Wichita, besides overseeing the work, is to convince business and other leaders that Security National will carry out its plans to renovate and update the building to class A standards.
He said one of the building’s biggest selling points is its views of the city.
“It really is the advantage the building has,” Baker said.
Q. How many trips have you made to Wichita this year?
A. This is my 20th trip since last September so … every three to four weeks I’m in town.
Q. How do you feel efforts to bring 125 N. Market up to leasable condition are progressing? Are they where you want to be right now?
A. I think we’re executing on the business plan just fine. You always want things to move along faster, but we are about where I expected us to be.
Q. How much of the building would Security National like to have leased and occupied in the next 12 months?
A. A full 40,000 (square) feet has been my target with my staff for 2014 (the building has a total of 300,000 square feet, 40 percent of which is occupied).
Q. Do you think Security National is succeeding in changing the perception of the building from one of a neglected office skyscraper to something that will be improved to nearly class A office space?
A. I think we are. I’m still not a person who likes to beat their own drum, so I ask people when I‘m meeting with them if we’re making a difference. Do they recognize we’re the owner? … I don’t know if it’s made it out to someone’s living room yet, but hopefully the decision-makers in Wichita know they have an option that they didn’t have before
Q. What's something you've learned about Wichita that surprised you?
A. The commitment of the business professionals that I’ve interacted with to downtown. I think that defines the city and the city core more than anything else.