Keeper of the Plans

‘Gatsby-esque’ event venue coming to arts district

From left, Blake and Lauren Guthrie are opening an event venue at 508 S. Commerce in the old Go Away Garage space. Jessie Griffith will be director of operations. (Dec. 9, 2016)
From left, Blake and Lauren Guthrie are opening an event venue at 508 S. Commerce in the old Go Away Garage space. Jessie Griffith will be director of operations. (Dec. 9, 2016) The Wichita Eagle

The Hudson, a new event venue expected to seat up to 350 people, is scheduled to open in the Commerce Street Arts District in late March.

Entrepreneurs Blake and Lauren Guthrie closed on their purchase of the building in early November.

It will be in Mitch Willis’ old Go-Away Garage space, which had become a staple of the burgeoning Commerce area before closing in September.

Willis didn’t want to sell his space to just anyone, Blake Guthrie said. The new owners needed to be people who would fit into the neighborhood.

“We were like kindred spirits right off the bat,” Blake Guthrie said. “He loved our vision for it and what we wanted to do with it, and we just appreciated everything he had already done. It was a really great relationship. ... He was a perfect fit for us, and I think he felt the same.”

The main reception space – about 7,000 square feet – will hold roughly 350 people seated at tables, he said. The venue will also convert a 4,000-square-foot outdoor patio area into a green space to have ceremonies and outdoor receptions, he said.

“It’ll be unique to downtown, having the outdoor space to be able to house events,” Blake Guthrie said. “Nobody else downtown is able to go outside. I think that’ll separate us.”

Nobody else downtown is able to go outside. I think that’ll separate us.

Blake Guthrie, co-owner of The Hudson

It will have an “industrial chic” architecture style, he said, with “over-the-top nice finishes.”

“It’ll have a really cool Gatsby-esque feeling,” he said. “That’s probably the best way to describe it.”

The space will be connected to 504 S. Commerce, which will serve as office space for the event staff and a place for Final Friday receptions.

Blake Guthrie said he doesn’t want to “reinvent the wheel” with the space – not many substantial changes need to be made.

Updating restrooms and installing fire-suppression sprinklers, chandeliers and kitchen equipment tops the list.

“A lot of what Mitch did was awesome,” Blake Guthrie said. “We’re just kind of improving it to make it a destination in downtown Wichita.”

Parking on Commerce during peak event hours can be hard to come by, but Guthrie said that is being addressed.

The city is adding 115 public parking spots behind the building, and The Hudson has agreements with neighboring businesses to lease parking spaces when events are scheduled.

The city is adding 115 public parking spots on the east side of the building, and The Hudson has made agreements with nearby Timber Creek Paper and the Wichita Bindery to lease parking spots for events. In total, there are about 167 parking spots in the area that people can reserve when they book at The Hudson, Blake Guthrie said.

“That was one of the key concerns we had getting in here,” he said. “Your party’s guaranteed to have parking down here, which is really important. Not a lot of places have 150 spots you can guarantee for your party.”

Blake Guthrie, who has a small metal manufacturing company on the side – Eleos Machine Company – and various rental properties in town, said he expects the city to process all of his paperwork by sometime in January.

The first event scheduled at The Hudson is in April.

In addition to weddings, Guthrie said he’d like to host smaller concerts at the venue.

To follow along with The Hudson’s progress toward opening, check www.facebook.com/TheHudsonICT, or watch for updates here on Keeper of the Plans.

Matt Riedl: 316-268-6660, @RiedlMatt

  Comments