QT to go at Orme, Hillside over neighbors' objections

QuikTrip will open its 40th local store in east Wichita in the spring of 2011, over the objections of several nearby residents.

The new store on the southwest corner of Orme and Hillside got Wichita City Council approval Tuesday, despite almost 50 percent opposition from the neighborhood.

Nonetheless, QT spokesman Mike Thornbrugh in Tulsa said Wednesday that the company plans to break ground soon and develop a store that will fit nicely into the neighborhood.

"These are the people who we hope are coming in every day," Thornbrugh said. "We've reached out to them in the planning process, told them of our plans and our door will remain open as we build."

Thornbrugh said Kellogg traffic made the site attractive for expansion.

"Most people in the retail business like corners, and we're no different," Thornbrugh said.

The new store, about 4,600 square feet, will be similar to most of the new, larger QuikTrips built in Wichita.

It will include gas pumps to serve 12 to 16 cars at a time, the QT Kitchens line of fresh fast food and the chain's usual line of convenience items.

About half of the neighbors in the Hillside and Orme area opposed rezoning for the store, according to documents provided by the city of Wichita.

Concerns centered on increased traffic, diminished safety and lower property values.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that a 24-hour convenience store with gas pumps will in no way bring any benefit to a quiet, tree-lined residential neighborhood," wrote Robert McCann.

Mark Schuyler, a dentist with offices at 639 S. Hillside, said the proposed site "(has) a potential to make this area, in my opinion, a very dangerous area to drive and walk."

Thornbrugh said Wednesday that the company intends to construct a berm to set the store off from nearby homes and will landscape it in accordance with the neighborhood.

QuikTrip, founded in 1958 in a Tulsa strip mall, has more than 550 stores nationwide. It is renovating Wichita locations and is expanding in markets such as Dallas, Phoenix and Tucson.

The company still plans to build a new convenience store at 39th North and Ridge Road in northwest Wichita.