Lux development poised for its first residents

Almost two years to the day that Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey announced their Lux development, the first residents will begin moving into the building at the northwest corner of First and Market.

“This building is going to be amazing, and this is just the beginning of something special downtown,” says Jeremy Luginbill of Lifeboat Creative.

Leasing started Monday for apartments on the third floor – the first residential available at the building – which will be ready Oct. 1.

“We’re going to have pretty much a smattering of all the different units,” Luginbill says.

That includes units with one and two bedrooms, which start at about $1,000 and $1,150, respectively. The Lux’s only three-bedroom unit will be on that floor as well. It will be almost 1,900 square feet and will go for more than $2,000.

Options also include the Essential units, which are streamlined units of about 500 square feet. Their pricing starts at about $650.

All of the initial available units are apartments.

“We will not be doing condos at this point,” Luginbill says.

He says the developers have been “meeting some challenges through the process” because of their commitment to meeting LEED standards.

“We’re just trying to make sure they’re done right rather than just quickly,” Luginbill says.

He says Eyster and Ramsey could settle for silver or bronze LEED levels, but he says that’s not good enough.

“Making sure that we meet gold … is what our goal is.”

The third floor will have a green roof. Luginbill says from his research, this will be the first green roof in downtown Wichita.

“It’s going to be a self-sustaining roof,” he says.

He says that means after the initial growth period, it won’t need to be watered.

“It’s going to be its own little green habitat,” Luginbill says. “It allows people to have green outdoor space in a downtown … high-rise environment.”

On the northeast corner of the building, the third floor was an addition years ago, and not all of it goes up the building’s seven stories.

The Kansas Gas and Electric Co. built the 171,000-square-foot building in 1953, and Eyster and Ramsey are trying to keep much of its 1950s flavor while updating the building.

Luginbill says there have been nearly 200 inquiries regarding leasing.

“We are confident that that third floor is going to fill up rather quickly,” he says. “We don’t see any issue with leasing the third floor.”

He says the Lux’s first two commercial tenants, the Defense Contract Management Agency and the Defense Contract Audit Agency, are in the process of moving into the second floor.

More residential leasing will follow once the third floor is full.

“They will be following floor by floor over the coming months,” Luginbill says.

“We’re excited to see the response,” he says.

He says everyone involved in the project is eager for Wichitans “to see our vision and start enjoying what we’ve been working on these past months.”

Hartman’s fourth GM

James Snodgrass is out as the third general manager of the 5-year-old Hartman Arena, but he’s reluctant to discuss it.

“They still haven’t given me a reason why I was let go.”

Snodgrass, who was hired in spring 2011, won’t say more.

“I would like to take the high road on this one,” he says.

Arena owner Wink Hartman Sr. says he didn’t make the decision alone.

“It was a group decision with VenuWorks, his employer, having the final decision,” Hartman says.

“It’s been our view all along that we were going to take a look and evaluate and … see if a change was necessary,” says John Siehl, regional vice president for VenuWorks.

He says the company decided “to bring in a person that we had picked so that we could improve the program and the operation.”

Aran Rush is the new general manager for Hartman Arena. Rush most recently was executive director for the Sioux City, Iowa, events facilities department, which included the convention and visitors bureau and the Tyson Events Center. Siehl says Rush is new to VenuWorks.

Hartman says if there are leadership issues at the arena, “I take full responsibility.”

He says he doesn’t think there have been problems with leadership, but he says the arena isn’t where it should be financially.

“The production of events at the arena can significantly increase, and hopefully it will,” Hartman says.

He says with SMG taking over management at the Orpheum Theatre and with the Kansas Star Casino now doing concerts, it’s getting tougher to be in business.

The casino is a particular source of concern to Hartman.

“Kansas Star Casino is funded by the Kansas lottery system. Hartman Arena was funded with my personal after-tax dollars, which is significantly different.”

He says the fact that the casino, though not its concert venue, allows smoking while other places can’t have it is another issue.

“As they say, the government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers,” Hartman says.

He says he doesn’t have regrets about opening the arena.

“I never back up from any business I start,” Hartman says. “I continue and will continue to strive to make Hartman Arena successful in the market.”

You don’t say

“Sorry for the delays. But you know, it’s like anything, the longer you go without it, the more exciting it is when you get to see it again.”

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