Several Wichita and Sedgwick County elected officials would like to tear down the dilapidated former Coleman building at the southeast corner of Second and St. Francis, and a deal may be in the works.
The ground beneath the building is contaminated, city and county officials say.
Its best future use, they say, is probably as a surface parking lot that serves both Old Town and Intrust Bank Arena while somehow honoring the camping equipment giant that once used the building.
City and county officials have discussed the location as a potential parking lot since they began talking about arena parking about two years ago.
Vice Mayor Jeff Longwell said the county may be nearing a deal to turn the site into a lot for 500 to 600 vehicles.
Longwell thinks it would be a positive step for the area, which sits on the other side of the railroad tracks from Old Town.
"In some cases, all we need to do is clean out the blight and put in some parking," he said.
Assistant County Manager Ron Holt declined to elaborate on any specifics, but he said the county has been examining that and other locations and plans to bring a proposal to commissioners soon.
County Commissioner Tim Norton said he's not sure when a deal may be presented.
"I've always thought that's a good piece of property to put a parking lot on," he said. "And maybe some green space that celebrates the original Coleman building."
The building is in the 2,600-acre Gilbert and Mosley area, which environmental officials determined in the 1990s includes pockets of significant groundwater and soil contamination.
Coleman officials did not respond to questions about the site's potential sale or the condition of the building Wednesday afternoon, but the company indicated it was formulating a response.
The four-story building has been in rough shape for years. Dozens of windows are broken out. Graffiti tags are visible inside and out. And city officials field complaints about it every month.
Kurt Schroeder, superintendent of central inspection, said the city has a code case regarding the condition of the building's exterior and has started a neglected-building case, which requires the owner to produce a plan to repair or demolish the building.
Schroeder said Coleman is cooperating with the city and has met with city officials to discuss building repairs and cost estimates.
The code cases date back at least a year, and other cases related to broken windows may have been opened and closed, said Schroeder, who did not have access to inspection records Wednesday evening.
Mayor Carl Brewer called the building a hazard during the City Council meeting Tuesday.
"We're always getting complaints about that building," he said Wednesday. "It's a real eyesore."
He said he believes a parking lot is the best use.
"I like the idea because we can always use the parking," he said.
Council member Janet Miller, whose district includes the building, said she gets complaints about the building every month.
She said she has heard of a variety of plans for the building through the years.
"I would really love to see something done with that and the sooner the better," she said.