Plans forming for WaterWalk Village

Jack DeBoer's vision for the struggling downtown mixed-use development now has a tentative name: WaterWalk Village.

Commercial development around WaterWalk Place is taking shape in the Wichita entrepreneur's mind as a self-contained community, a collection of offices, restaurants and shops in the individualistic style DeBoer's incorporating in his residential condos.

"Let people do what they want," DeBoer said during a recent open house at the condo project.

"Give them the basics, and let them design it any way they'd like."

That's the concept DeBoer is hatching for the surrounding commercial development — a freewheeling collection of single-story restaurants, hotels, shops and offices circling WaterWalk Place, creating everything condo owners would need within walking distance.

The single-story commercial buildings —"to make sure our residents here can always see the river," DeBoer said — are still in the formative stage, and tenants are being aggressively recruited.

DeBoer's vision is a tight-knit group of service providers circling the condos and a gazebo, with perhaps an amphitheater and daily events. WaterWalk is currently advertising for an events planner, DeBoer said.

The commercial concept doesn't stray far from DeBoer's remake of WaterWalk Place condos, on display last week during a reception. DeBoer described the original condos as "spartan."

Interior Trends and Nies Homes have completed upgrades to the condominiums at WaterWalk Place, including new lighting and plumbing ideas, built-in bookcases, creative tile backsplashes and granite countertops, a butler's pantry and wine bar, morning bar in the master bedroom, and new floor, wall and ceiling finishes.

In addition, DeBoer has reworked a couple of the garage exteriors, changing the look from storage shed to more of a neighborhood residential feel.

DeBoer took over WaterWalk in October in a cashless transaction with his partners, part of a management group originally formed in 2002.

He hired NAI John T. Arnold Associates to market the commercial property and J.P. Weigand & Sons' new homes division to market the condos.

WaterWalk has landed Jim Korroch's $12 million, 131-room Fairfield Inn and Suites Hotel at WaterWalk, slated to open in spring 2011.

And work is continuing on a landscaping plan for WaterWalk.