Wichita council to hear bond request for downtown apartment project, plans to repair parking garage

The Wichita City Council on Tuesday will hear a request for industrial revenue bonds on a downtown apartment building, and a plan to make repairs at the former Macy’s parking garage.

According to city documents, Lux Building LLC is seeking up to $14.45 million in industrial revenue bonds on its nearly $20 million project converting the former KG&E headquarters at First and Market into 60 apartments and two floors of commercial office and retail space.

The documents said the developer is seeking the IRBs to obtain a sales tax exemption on the cost of building materials it’s using to renovate the 175,000-square-foot, eight story office building, which was built in 1953.

The council is not expected to act on the IRB request until Feb. 11.

The council also will be asked to approve a plan to start repairs on the nine-story parking garage at Market and William that the city took legal ownership of last fall.

City staff is recommending the council approve a $6.85 million plan to stabilize and improve the structure that would allow parking for about 240 vehicles. The garage was originally built for parking for 550 vehicles. In May 2012 the Metropolitan Area Building & Construction Department closed the garage because it had fallen into disrepair over the last decade, the documents said. Main and Market LLC, a Chicago-based property investment company, owned the garage, while the city owned the land beneath it.

Main and Market had stopped making lease payments and also was not up to date on taxes on the garage, according to city officials, and last January, the city sued to foreclose on the building. Last September the city won a judgment against Main and Market for $239,000 for back lease payments and taxes, and $4.85 million for devaluing the property.

The documents said the funds that the city would use for the garage repair project would come from three sources: its Adopted Capital Improvement Program, a Garage Reserve Fund and $3.4 million from general obligation bonds that were earmarked for replacing the roof on Century II. The documents said funding for the Century II roof replacement could be obtained through transient guest tax funding.

Jeff Fluhr, president of Wichita Downtown Development Corp., said Monday that making repairs to the garage is an important project that could benefit neighboring buildings – including Sutton Place, which is connected to it by a skywalk, as well as the Finney State Office Building – by providing parking for workers and customers.

“The Macy’s garage provides the answer,” he said. “It’s an existing asset (and) it’s not acceptable as it is today, and we need to get a positive use for it.”

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