Ventures Park at 37th, Oliver to expand

Great Plains Ventures officials have formed a development team to create a 50-acre mixed-use retail, hospitality and office venue at 37th North and Oliver.

The company's Ventures Park, located east across Oliver from Koch Industries, will become a mixed-use site where CEO Susayn Brandes wants to provide retail and housing services to a largely unserved area of Wichita.

"The vision? That I'd have a place to get gas and a Coke after work," Brandes said, chuckling.

Great Plains has partnered with Wichita developer Jason Van Sickle on the project, targeting hotels, apartments, senior and medical-based living facilities, offices and some retail to the area.

The park includes significant frontage along K-96 and along Oliver for a variety of retail and hospitality ventures.

"Ventures is an exciting project, because Great Plains has over 50 acres of prime, undeveloped northeast Wichita land," Van Sickle said.

"I don't know of any other location that can boast traffic counts of 70,000 cars a day and proximity to two of the city's largest white-collar employers in Koch Industries and Wichita State University."

Brandes' family bought 101 acres of land at K-96 and Oliver during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Great Plains Ventures, the family holding company overseeing manufacturing operations, has its headquarters there.

GPV oversees Great Plains Industries, Aerospace Systems and Components and PowderTech.

But over the years, a half-dozen other firms, including a Value Place location and ResCare, have located in the business park.

"Ideally, it would be best, we think, to have services close here," Brandes said. "We've had some changes with ResCare going in, other businesses, the hotel, and it's made us think differently about how we can develop this land.

"We've got all this Koch traffic here, and if you see the off-ramp here at 7:30 in the morning, it's all backed up. We've talked about what a coffee shop would do out here, and I'm betting you'd need a giant drive-through."

Value Place president David Redfern said he would welcome service businesses.

"We are very much for restaurants and other retail in the Ventures business park," he said. "It would be a benefit to our guests at Value Place."

Van Sickle, a veteran Wichita commercial and residential developer, said the land is some of the last commercially developable property along the highway.

"Koch owns a large chunk of land where they haven't pursued development, and then you've got Chisholm Trail Park," Van Sickle said.

"Two big controllers of land, whether it's the state with the park or Koch with the land they own, so you don't have development opportunities over here except Ventures, which is the last business park available."

Brandes said her company's financial health is "strong," making now the time to proceed with park development.

"It's a good time for us to make a move," she said. "We have a great relationship with Intrust Bank, so if there's something we need to put into a deal, we have that ability. And I don't think you'd find builders and others in a better position to deal with than now."