As expected, the HUD loan that will allow the Exchange Place project to move forward closed on Tuesday.
“Wow it’s, like, surreal just because it’s finally done,” says Dave Wells, president of Key Construction.
“Seriously, it’s been nine years, two months and three days since we interviewed for the job,” he says. “It’s incredible how many times it was just about done, and then it died again.”
Real Development hired the company when it was still in Wichita and involved in the project.
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The $66 million development is in the heart of downtown and will revitalize two empty, deteriorating buildings – the pink marble Exchange Place and the white brick Bitting Building on the northeast and northwest corners of Douglas and Market – and add a new parking garage and apartment building where the Lerner and Michigan buildings currently are.
“The HUD project makes it complicated just because of all the requirements of HUD,” Wells says. “And then on top of that you had the historic piece of this.”
There are state and federal tax credits involved.
“And then on top of that you had the city TIF proceeds going into the project,” Wells says. “Just about every complicated funding mechanism you could have on a project, you had. But it’s done.”
He says there were five hours of preliminary closing work on Monday and the actual closing took from 8 a.m. to about 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
“Now the work begins,” Wells says. “We’re getting it prepped.”
The actual work may be easier than what it took to get here.
“Well, it’s more what I’m used to,” Wells says. “I’m a contractor, not a finance guy. I’ll tell you, it’ll be a lot less frustrating.”
He says it will all be worth it when the buildings are done.
“They’ve just been a blight,” Wells says.
In 20 months, when construction is expected to be completed, he says it’ll be “unbelievable the difference.”