City takes ownership of former Macy’s parking garage

11/14/2013 12:00 AM

11/13/2013 6:04 PM

The city of Wichita has taken legal ownership of the troubled former Macy’s parking garage downtown and is a few weeks away from considering options to renovate it.

The nine-story, 550-space garage at William and Market streets was closed by the city in May 2012 because of safety concerns.

Main and Market LLC, a Chicago-based property investment company, owned the garage, while the city owned the land beneath it.

The garage owner stopped making lease payments as well as paying the taxes on the structure.

In January, the city sued to foreclose on the garage and in September won a judgment against Main and Market for $239,000 for back lease payments and taxes, and $4.85 million for devaluing the property.

Deputy City Attorney Brian McLeod said it appears unlikely the city will ever collect any of that money. Main and Market has no assets to seize, other than a building at 110 S. Main, on which Main and Market owed more than the value of the building. High Touch Technologies, a tenant in that building, announced this month that it is buying 110 S. Main after suing Main and Market for not maintaining the building.

Allen Bell, the city’s director of urban development, said the city will fix the parking garage because it’s needed to support redevelopment of that area, and because there really isn’t a good alternative. Tearing it down would be expensive and replacing it even more so.

Joe Pajor, deputy director of Public Works, said his department is developing several options for the Wichita City Council to consider – likely at the council’s Dec. 3 or Dec. 10 meeting.

“We will stabilize all of it, and then figure out how much of the structure we make ready for parking,” Pajor said. “It is in some serious need of attention.”

In the city’s original lawsuit, it cited an engineering study for basic repairs at $7.9 million. The estimate to tear the garage down was $4.9 million.

Abdul Arif has a law office across the street from the garage and was dismayed when it was closed last year.

“It’s critical,” he said. “The mindset of people in Wichita is that if parking is two blocks away, they will not visit. They’ll drive around and around the block, going crazy, and then they’ll leave.”

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