Businesses to join Walmart at Marina Lakes Shopping Center

A Wichita shopping center is getting new owners.

Bruce Harris and Larry Cook, two Wichita developers, closed late Monday afternoon on the purchase of the Marina Lakes Shopping Center, on the southwest corner of the once thriving retail intersection of 21st and Amidon.

Harris, best known in Wichita for his A-OK Pawn Shops, plans to apply the business model that grew his pawn shops to the shopping center.

"We buy used items and give them new life and change them into brand new," he said. "We're going to take this shopping center and do the same thing. It's been dead for 20 years."

Cook, a Wichita contractor and developer, will handle most of the renovation work.

Purchase price was not disclosed. The sellers are Henzlik-Oliver Real Estate Cos., based in Overland Park, and their Wichita partners.

The shopping center is the home of one of Walmart's new Neighborhood Markets on its north end. That property is not included in the sale, but it's a big lure to the new owners.

"Walmart is very, very strong," Cook said. "We're not in a position to announce them yet, but we've got a lot of the tenants for the spots already. Walmart is a major attraction and always pulls in a lot of people."

The sale includes the Payless Shoe Source building and an undeveloped pad site in the shopping center parking lot.

Harris plans a 35,000-square-foot store in the 102,000 remaining square feet.

In it, he's going to wrap all of his business concepts together — pawn shop, Cricket telephones, rent-to-own services, games, tax preparation, payday loans and check cashing.

"It'll be one of the largest stores we've had," Harris said. "We're going to do it big — a helicopter on the ceiling, things like that.

"Our products are separate and distinct, to be sure, but the customers are the same. We feel like they complement each other on the customer experience we need to deliver."

Harris said he'll target a variety of service industries to fill the rest of the center, including a sit-down restaurant. The center has a handful of current tenants, including a Radio Shack and an open MRI center.

"There's a lot of fast food in the area, but no sit-down restaurant," he said."... We want to develop several choices out there of things to do."

The Overland Park partnership purchased the shopping center in February and immediately went to work, beginning a 75,000-square-foot scrape and build for Walmart.

The remainder of the L-shaped center has undergone some facade renovations.

The shopping center was originally built in 1968 for Woolco, the discount chain that operated Woolworth stores. Most of those stores have been closed since 1984 in the United States.

Rod Stewart and Darrell Leason of Keller Williams Commercial represented the sellers. Leo Goseland of Plaza Commercial represented the buyers.