Wichita native R.D. Wood was a young man in the mid-1960s when he started planning what was then the biggest purchase of his life.
“I saved up my money,” he says.
Finally, in 1967 he had enough to go to Quality Chevrolet – his mother’s former employer – at 1520 E. Douglas just east of Washington downtown and buy a Chevelle, his first car.
Now, Wood and his wife, B.J., have purchased the 60,000-square-foot building, which most recently was home to Big Dog Motorcycles.
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The 1927 building, which Intrust Bank took over from Big Dog, has been vacant for three years.
“I was impressed how well it was maintained,” Wood says.
He says he also liked the upgrades and additions that Big Dog made in the years it was there.
Initially, the Woods planned to convert the building into storage.
They own MaxSecure Storage and U’Need’A Storage, including eight sites in Wichita along with one each in Hutchinson and Oklahoma City.
Then, though, the Woods started telling people about their plans and realized there were some who wanted to lease the space.
“We have some people showing interest,” Wood says. “A lot of people just wanted part of it.”
He and his wife began to consider how the building could work for retail and office tenants.
“Things just kind of happened by osmosis,” says Kris Wessel, the NAI Martens broker who represented the Woods in the deal.
“There was almost too much interest before closing to go ahead and convert this to storage,” he says.
Part of it is the building’s location, Wessel and Wood say.
“We think East Douglas is on the move,” Wood says. “It’s becoming more and more popular.”
Zach Wood, R.D. and B.J. Wood’s son who once made a job application to Quality Chevrolet, says he likes that the building is part of the Douglas Design District.
“The right things are happening, and I think we can find tenants that want to be close to things,” Wessel says.
He and Wood say that includes companies that want to be centrally located.
“They can still be down here in the middle of everything,” Wessel says.
For some potential tenants, Wood says, it’s the building and what it offers that is the attraction.
“Everyone’s very interested in the paint booth right there,” he says of the paint booth Big Dog installed.
The building has 171 parking spaces, part of which the Woods initially planned to convert to storage, plus street parking.
“Now let’s get serious,” Wood says. “Who is interested in what?”
The Woods hope to have leases signed by summer.
“There’s probably four very logical-sized spaces,” Wood says.
The smallest of those would be about 3,500 square feet.
“We haven’t really marketed it,” Wood says.
He says he’s not sure what, or if, he’s going to name the complex.
“Naming rights are available,” Wessel quickly adds.
Part of the Big Dog complex has already been sold, and Wood says that’s OK with him because he probably wouldn’t have been interested in purchasing the entire thing.
“We think we bought it right,” he says.
Wood won’t disclose the price, though he says, “It didn’t keep me up at night.”
Scott Salome and Jeff Walenta, also with NAI Martens, represented Intrust Bank in the deal.
Wessel says that at the most, the property will need cosmetic changes and adjustments specific to future tenants.
The heating and air and roof are all less than a decade old.
“It’s move-in ready,” Wood says. “It’s nice.”
He says he thinks he’ll have tenants to fill the building, but if something happens that he doesn’t, Wood says he could “very easily” convert the space to storage instead.
“That’s always there to go do.”