Belford Electric puts land near arena on market

A Wichita businessman said he thinks now is the time to put 31,500 square feet near Intrust Bank Arena on the market.

John Belford, owner of Belford Electric at 800 E. Third St., and his partners in Waterman Properties are selling the land at Waterman and Rock Island three years after they thought it would be the electric contractor's new home.

The asking price is $15 a square foot.

With the arena open, Belford said it's a good time to assess interest in the land.

"Oh, it's anybody's guess," Belford said. "They've always said that around the arena other city development would occur. There seems to be a lot of chatter about that development now. I hope it's there."

Larry Weber of Builders Inc., who chairs the Wichita Downtown Development Corp. board, said the interest is there.

"I think people would like to see the (downtown revitalization) plan out so they knew where the experts thought things would fit," he said.

"But those experts are going to say that the area is prime for development, whether it's retail, housing or office. You may pick up a building thinking it's retail at the time, but when the plan comes out you may change your mind to residential."

"We're seeing an increase in interest in our downtown and I anticipate that will increase as Goody Clancy (the Boston-based downtown revitalization plan consultant) reveals components of the plan," said Jeff Fluhr, WDDC president.

Belford's group bought the land in 2007 as a possible home for Belford Electric, which was displaced by the arena project.

"But two weeks after we closed on the property, Herb Coin called about the property on Third and we took that," Belford said. "It's a great location and we just love it."

The group "kicked around several ideas for the land" after Belford Electric relocated.

"We thought about a strip center," Belford said. "We kicked around a bunch of ideas, including paving it for a parking lot for the arena but that's pretty expensive."