Carrie Rengers

Menards to break ground at K-96, Webb

The Menards deal at K-96 and Webb Road, which stalled when the economy tanked, is back on. The Wisconsin-based home improvement store has purchased 17 acres just northwest of Johnny Carino's and will break ground on a 200,000-square-foot building in the next 30 days.

"It's big news because how many 200,000-square-foot buildings are under ... construction right now?" says Christian Ablah of Classic Real Estate , who handled the deal.

The Menards building permit will be for more like 240,000 square feet including overhangs. Menards will employ 130 people, about half of whom will be full time.

Ablah says that although Wichita is seeing more commercial activity, it still takes a lot to get deals done right now, especially one of this size.

"Everything is so scrutinized to make sure everything absolutely is done perfect."

He says that even nationally, these kinds of deals aren't happening every day like they used to.

"There's not a lot of big boxes doing new deals right now all across the country, so for Wichita to get this, it's a coup," Ablah says. "It's awesome for Wichita."

It's also good for his development at K-96 and Webb, which includes Gorges & Co. Volvo , Ted's Montana Grill , Candlewood Suites , the Kansas Spine Hospital and Johnny Carino's.

"I just think it's going to spur more activity in the market for all of northeast Wichita," Ablah says.

Fred Gorges, general manager of the Volvo dealership, says Menards will bring a lot of new traffic to the area.

"It's the diversity of traffic as well," he says. "Where we are is more or less medical row. Obviously, that's a great demographic for us ... but there's not a whole lot of retail out here."

Ablah says he still has 10 acres to develop at K-96 and Webb.

That doesn't include the land where the former Fritz Co. Grille was. Ablah sold that several years ago, and the building has remained vacant since the owners closed the restaurant in 2007.

As Have You Heard? reported in February, it looks like the Menards deal at 37th North and Maize Road is back on as well. Look for news on a purchase there shortly.

Ablah says the momentum building for commercial deals in Wichita helps everyone.

"Good activity creates good activity."

Goddard Ace closing

The only hardware store in Goddard, Goddard Ace Hardware , is closing.

"This is the third recession we've been through since we've owned the store," says Mary Carpenter . She's owned the business for nine years.

"The businesses were very good about patronizing me," Carpenter says of places like the schools and city government.

Goddard residents weren't quite as faithful, she says.

"I think the people who work in town (Wichita) probably shop in town," Carpenter says.

The store, at 19894 W. Kellogg, will close in early May.

Carpenter says the closure has nothing to do with the possibility of Wal-Mart coming to Goddard. As she says, it's not a definitive deal yet.

"I've heard from them, but they keep saying it's going to be a while yet," says John Dugan , who owns land Wal-Mart has been eyeing east of Goddard and west of what would be the interchange for a proposed bypass.

Dugan is more than hopeful about Wal-Mart coming, though.

"They say it's not if, it's when."

You don't say

"We're in a Catch-22 where we're large enough to be noticed, but still no one's quite ready to leap."

_ Goddard City Administrator Brian Silcott on the difficulty of attracting retailers to the city