Multiple commercial projects to begin in 2013

02/28/2013 3:22 PM

02/28/2013 3:23 PM

The area will see a number of commercial real estate projects open or get under way in Wichita in 2013 in nearly every sector of the industry.

But that doesn’t mean a return to the bustle experienced before 2008, when the national recession hit.

The NAI Martens Cos. forecast called for the area’s commercial real estate market to continue strengthening. J.P. Weigand & Sons said in its forecast that the commercial real estate market should show “consistent improvement.”

In 2013, Occidental Management will be opening a Class A office park that’s the first such project to be announced in the area in several years. The Offices at Cranbrook, 10111 E. 21st St., will have at least two of four office buildings completed this year. Plans for the eight-acre park call for a total of four buildings at the site. Chad Stafford, Occidental’s president, also said his company expects to begin work on converting the former Northrock 14 theaters to an office building. “I think it will come online based on where we’re on that in the leasing process,” he said. The 95,510-square-foot building will likely be configured for a couple of large office users rather than divvied up into numerous spaces for smaller users, Stafford said.

He said Occidental is beginning to develop office space again because “we’re to a point where people have said, ‘I have enough clarity ... to expand or move or open a new business.’ That’s been the difference, if you look at what’s happening in the market now versus two years ago.”

One, large owner-occupied project slated to begin this year is at Koch Industries, which announced late last year plans for a 210,000-square-foot addition to its headquarters on 37th Street North in northeast Wichita.

On the industrial side, developer David Shannon plans a 90,000-square-foot speculative warehouse/distribution facility in the 2100 block of south West Street.

The city of Bel Aire continues to develop Sunflower Commerce Park, an 800-acre light industrial and manufacturing park on the east side of Webb Road at 50th Street North. Its first tenant, Century Manufacturing, has opened in a 36,000-square-foot building there.

“We’ve got one down and several in the hopper,” said Marlin Penner about interest in the park. Penner is president of John T. Arnold Associates, the commercial real estate firm that is the broker of the park.

Penner said he is hopeful about the industrial real estate sector this year.

He said a number of factors are at play in the industrial sector, including pent-up demand.

And, he said, there are a some companies that because of the recession, have learned how to operate more efficiently and have improved their profitability from those efficiencies.

Probably the strongest sector of the commercial real estate market will be multi-family, or apartments.

A number of apartment projects are under way in the city, including Chisholm Lake Apartments in the Ventures Business Park at K-96 and Oliver, and Bennington Place near 21st and Maize Road, and an upscale apartment project planned by Stephen Clark II at the Waterfront development near 13th and Webb.

The Weigand forecast, released in February, was particularly bullish about multi-family, and said the market will be able to absorb the units being developed in Wichita. Its forecast and the Martens forecast also projected that multi-family would remain a strong sector for investors.

Retail looks to be the slowest commercial real estate sector, at least in terms of speculative retail centers. But there is activity, including CVS pharmacy, which is building its first Wichita stores at Central and Oliver in east Wichita and near13th and Maize in west Wichita.

Wichita could see further retail real estate activity this year because “national retailers are, once again, looking at our market,” said Jerry Gray, vice president and general manager of Weigand’s commercial/investment division, at the firm’s forecast event in February.

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