New downtown digs

Garvey Center plans 36-unit apartment complex at First, Waco

09/05/2012 7:23 AM

09/05/2012 7:23 AM

In another sign of recovery – both for Wichita and downtown in particular – the Garvey Center is going to build new apartments.

“We’re going to be constructing 36 new apartment units at the corner of First and Waco,” says Garvey Center manager Larry Weber.

The city owns half the parking lot that’s at the southeast corner, and the Garvey Center owns the other half.

Weber expects the project will take about a year to build after the city approves selling its land.

“The thing that’s significant about it is it’s adding new residential into our downtown,” says Jeff Fluhr, president of the Wichita Downtown Development Corp.

Fluhr says Builders Inc., which owns the Garvey Center, and its CEO, Mike Garvey, were some of the first to step up to help pay for a $100,000 study of downtown that showed that more residential is needed. Fluhr says more living areas in turn help meet retail and restaurant needs, which also were part of the plan.

City Council member Janet Miller agrees that the new apartments are likely to help with the ripple effect.

“That brings more services, more retail, more entertainment options.” All of that may eventually lead to a full-scale grocery store for the city’s core, she says, “which is what everybody wants.”

The Garvey Center already has 155 apartments at 250 Douglas Place.

“We’re 100 percent (occupied) on those, and the demand is such that more are needed,” Weber says.

Parking will be within the Garvey Center’s garage.

While other apartments and condos have become available downtown in recent years, none has been built from the ground up.

“When you think about it, this is the first new apartments in the core in I don’t know how long,” Weber says.

Fluhr says a lot of properties have been redeveloped but that this is different.

“It’s certainly been an extended period of time since we’ve seen any new apartment development, especially stand-alone,” he says.

Fluhr says development on two empty lots is “tremendous for First and Waco.”

With that and Cargill’s expanded space nearby along with the remodeled Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview, Fluhr says, “You’re going to see a whole new dynamic of a corridor that wasn’t there previously.”

Weber says downtown’s resurgence is exciting.

“Just the amount of growth, the demand, seeing this and many other projects unfolding.”

Miller likes that there’s more private investment happening. She says for anyone who doesn’t think a lot is going on downtown, “They clearly haven’t been down there in a while.”

Fluhr says the Garvey Center’s addition will be another success.

“I have no doubt that before they’re done with this, they’re probably going to be 100 percent occupied.”

No vacancy

Two businesses are moving into the 4,500-square-foot Tyler Office Park near the northwest corner of Douglas and Tyler.

That’s the building that Dale Walker built for his Midwest Insurance Agency more than a year ago.

Kathie Walker, who is married to Dale Walker, is moving her Bullins Tax Service to the building.

Her lease is up at 4425 W. Zoo Blvd.

Four counselors are taking the other available suite in the building. The independent counselors, who are coming from a few other locations, are Dawn Robinson, Angie Lynn, Sarah Thome and Victoria Whitetree.

The new tenants bring Tyler Office Park to 100 percent occupancy.

You don’t say

“I was a reporter, but the chamber paid me a dollar an hour more, so I couldn’t turn it down.”

– Wichita chamber CEO Gary Plummer, who was 21 in 1979 when he got his first chamber job in Iowa making $11,500 a year compared to his newspaper salary of about $10,400

Carrie Rengers first reported these items on her blog. Be among the first to get her business scoops at blogs.kansas.com/haveyouheard.

Carrie Rengers first reported these items on her blog Tuesday. Be among the first to get her business scoops at blogs.kansas.com/haveyouheard.

About Carrie Rengers

Carrie Rengers joined The Eagle's Business team in 2002 despite her inability to even balance a checkbook. Fortunately for her, and readers, her Have You Heard? blog is about business scoops and contains lots of news but almost no math.

A Michigan native, Carrie’s father was quite tragically transferred to Little Rock, Ark., in the middle of her sophomore year of high school. To make matters worse, her parents put her in a girls school. She recovered, though, and went on to enjoy being an English major at Hendrix College (the Harvard of the Ozarks, don’t you know). She worked for the weekly Arkansas Business and the statewide daily Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before moving to Wichita to be with her favorite writer and cook, husband Joe Stumpe.

Carrie encourages readers to contact her with tips, questions, behind-the-scenes business news and even funny quotes from business people. Reach her at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com

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