The dilapidated Coleman Co. factory building at Second and St. Francis — pockmarked by broken windows and crumbling bricks — will be knocked down and become land for a parking lot under a plan approved by Sedgwick County commissioners Wednesday.
The board voted unanimously, with Commissioner Gwen Welshimer absent due to a recent surgery, to pay $600,000 for the site.
County officials have estimated it will cost $300,000 to raze the building and $600,000 to construct the parking lot to serve downtown and Intrust Bank Arena.
The property was listed for sale for $1.7 million in 2008 and for $1.25 million last year.
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The county plans to build 500 parking spaces on the property and 14 parking spaces for people with disabilities.
"This fulfills a promise to the people about parking" for Intrust Bank Arena, Commissioner Kelly Parks said.
Parks said he would like to see the lot be free for arena events. The purchase of the lot will be paid for by money collected during the arena sales tax, not by property taxes.
Jeff Fluhr, president of the Wichita Downtown Development Corp., said the parking would enhance the overall development plan for downtown.
An effort by Chairman Karl Peterjohn to delay a vote on the purchase for a week failed. He had wanted to wait until Welshimer returned to the bench.
Uses for the property are limited because of soil and groundwater contamination at the site. Coleman and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment agreed last year that the land would be used only for parking.
Groundwater and soil treatment continues at the site.
The four-story Coleman building — known as Factory A — has a rich history dating to its opening in 1929.
The 96,000-square-foot factory was retired in 1990.
The building on the southeast corner of the intersection has been vacant for years and has fallen into disrepair.
Coleman will remain responsible for environmental remediation at the site with the exception of asbestos removal during demolition of the factory building.
"I can't find anything negative in the logic of this purchase except spending money," Commissioner Dave Unruh said.