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Busy year ahead for commercial real estate

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, March 1, 2014, at 11:40 a.m.
  • Updated Sunday, March 2, 2014, at 8:03 a.m.

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Wichita should see quite a bit of commercial real estate activity in 2014, from downtown office space to new apartments and industrial construction.

Local commercial real estate firms such as NAI Martens are projecting slow but steady improvement in the area’s commercial real estate activity, led by retail and small medical office projects.

But such projections don’t distract from a host of construction and renovation projects in all sectors of commercial real estate that are planned or underway in the area.

In the office sector, Occidental Management plans to begin construction on the third building in its Offices at Cranbrook office park. Occidental president Chad Stafford said work on the third building is set to begin sometime this month.

At 46,000 square feet, the building will be the largest one in the park, which is less than 2 years old.

Occidental is also the owner of one of downtown’s highest-profile properties, the former Union Station at 701 E. Douglas, which is made up of three buildings: the Union Station building, the Rock Island passenger depot and the Grand Hotel.

“We plan to start work on the Grand Hotel and the Rock Island passenger depot in April or May,” Stafford said.

Last year, Occidental, along with franchisees Neil and Hamendra Bhakta, secured leases for a Smoothie King store, a restaurant and venue space at the depot, he said. Occidental has signed a lease for the Grand Hotel but can’t yet release details.

The owners of another high-profile downtown property, the 19-story 125 N. Market building, will continue with their plans to invest up to $5 million in renovations and upgrades. Plans from Security National Life Insurance Co. of Salt Lake City call for updating and redecorating the common areas on four floors, upgrading infrastructure, modernizing elevator controls, renovating the top floor as a reception and event space and repairing the skywalk that leads to the Exchange Place building across the street.

In the retail sector, Texas-based chain Academy Sports and Outdoor plans to build a second store in the city, near the southeast corner of Greenwich and K-96 in northeast Wichita. The 72,000-square-foot store is expected to open late this year. Another major retail project expected to open this year is the Whole Foods’ Bread & Circus store in a new phase of development at the WaterWalk at 13th and Webb.

In the multifamily area, several apartment projects have opened buildings for leasing, including Vantage Point Properties’ SunStone Apartment Homes just southeast of Andover Road and Kellogg and Chisholm Lakes Apartments northeast of Oliver and K-96. Other apartment projects slated to begin opening this year include Stoney Pointe, an apartment community near 29th and Greenwich that’s being developed by Michigan-based Edward Rose & Sons. More than 400 units could eventually comprise Stoney Pointe.

Also scheduled to open in 2014 is Value Place Apartments at the southwest corner of Maple and McLean. The $10 million development by Jack DeBoer’s extended-stay hotel chain will have 133 furnished and unfurnished apartments in one-, two- and three-bedroom configurations.

And construction is expected to begin this year on the $22 million River Vista apartment, office and retail project. The project – developed by George Laham, Dave Burk, Bill Warren and Dave Wells – calls for 154 apartment units and 20,000 square feet of space for office, retail and restaurants.

One broker said he’s optimistic about the industrial sector this year.

“We began to see some growth in industrial development in 2013, and I believe will see some new, modest growth again in 2014,” said Marlin Penner, president of John T. Arnold Associates.

Penner also is the agent for the city of Bel Aire’s Sunflower Commerce Park, an 800-acre light industrial manufacturing park near 53rd and Greenwich. Since opening in November 2012, the park has added or signed five tenants: Century Manufacturing, Shuttle Aerospace, FedEx, Next Level Hoops Academy and Buzzi Unicem.

“We are thrilled with the interest” in the park, Bel Aire City Manager Ty Lasher said. “(We) look forward to a successful 2014.”

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or jsiebenmark@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jsiebenmark.

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