Carrie Rengers

Cargill selects site for new Wichita headquarters

The Wichita Eagle building at 825 E. Douglas.
The Wichita Eagle building at 825 E. Douglas. File photo

After a much-discussed selection process, Cargill has chosen the Wichita Eagle site at 825 E. Douglas for its future Wichita headquarters.

“The 825 East Douglas site is perfectly situated for the creation of a new Cargill Protein Group headquarters, providing us with a long-term solution that meets our needs, as well as the needs of our Wichita team,” Brian Sikes, Cargill’s corporate vice president for the North America protein group, said in a statement Friday.

“Wichita won big today,” said developer Brandon Steven via text.

Steven recently purchased The Eagle property with business partners Dave Wells and Dave Burk.

“This is another step for downtown and advancing our quality of community,” Steven said in his text. “This will create a TON of new jobs just in construction alone.”

Cargill has a letter of intent with the owners, who are going to demolish the building and build a new campus for Cargill’s 800 employees.

“Locating in the Old Town portion of downtown Wichita places us in close proximity to many restaurant, entertainment, hotel and shopping options, with convenient access to key roads and highways,” Sikes said in the statement. “Creating a dynamic, aesthetic, and collaborative work environment of the future is an important element for growing our business and attracting and retaining talent as we transform to meet the evolving needs of our customers and consumers.”

Cargill expects to be in its new building by late 2018.

The Eagle has not announced a new site for its headquarters.

In March, Eagle president and publisher Roy Heatherly announced the company would transfer its printing and packaging operations to Kansas City, Mo., in May and would no longer need its 181,000-square-foot building for presses and other operations.

“We are very close to securing a location in downtown Wichita,” Heatherly said Friday.

Heatherly declined to discuss potential sites, but Steven said The Eagle’s decision has been narrowed to two locations.

One is the former Henry’s department store building at the northeast corner of Broadway and William.

“We have it under contract right now,” Steven said of himself, Wells and Burk.

Slawson Cos. currently owns the building.

The other possibility is a new building that Steven, Wells and Burk would build on property they own at the northeast corner of Second and St. Francis.

The Eagle would occupy the first floor of the three-story building at Second and St. Francis, and other tenants would be on the other floors.

Steven said Henry’s is the more likely choice.

“The location’s amazing,” he said.

Steven said the timing is great with that space, which he said would have a modern design and a “beautiful” mezzanine.

“It’s a real digital look of a new age.”

The Eagle likely would not be the sole tenant but would be the largest one.

Steven said there are already renderings showing that the building would look as high-tech and user friendly as walking into an Apple store.

“It would really capture the direction that The Eagle is trying to go with … digital.”

Without confirming a possible site, Heatherly said that it’s important that The Eagle’s new site showcase it as the digital company that it is.

“We are Wichita’s number one news and information company.”

From the time he announced that The Eagle would move, Heatherly said he wanted the company to be visible in the heart of the city.

“We are so committed to this town and growth.”

Also in March, The Eagle reported that Cargill was looking for a new home – possibly outside of Wichita.

The company then announced it would remain in the city and would consider a range of possibilities.

Brian Sikes, head of Cargill's protein division in Wichita, announced at a news conference at the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, that the company would remain in Wichita, and build a new campus in a yet-to-be determined location. Cargill had l

Cargill’s decision to remain in Wichita “was the paramount decision in the whole process,” said Gary Plummer, president and CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce.

He called the company “a tremendous asset for downtown Wichita,” though.

“We’re happy to hear it’s going to be downtown and redevelop an important part of our core,” Plummer said. “It’s good to retain those jobs downtown.

“Every community has its ups and downs when companies decide to expand and grow. I think it’s always good news when … exciting news like this doesn’t have the opposite effect on a district.”

News on The Eagle’s new site likely will come within a month.

“I think people will be very impressed when they see The Eagle’s new home,” Heatherly said. “It’ll be something the community will be very proud of.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers