Carrie Rengers

Changes coming for a few businesses in and around Old Town Square

Melad Stephan opened Oeno Wine Bar in Old Town Square in 2006, but he’s not sure what the bar’s future may hold. It could move within Old Town or possibly close.
Melad Stephan opened Oeno Wine Bar in Old Town Square in 2006, but he’s not sure what the bar’s future may hold. It could move within Old Town or possibly close. Eagle file photo

A few of the longstanding businesses in and around Old Town Square are making some changes, some of which are bigger than others.

The businesses include Associated Integrated Marketing, Oeno Wine Bar and Sullivan Higdon & Sink. One of the changes may also include The Wichita Eagle, which is closer to the outskirts of Old Town.

Associated is close to a deal to move into the former Oasis Staffing space just east of Old Chicago along Second Street in Old Town Square.

Oasis previously moved to 252 N. Mosley near where Distillery 244 Old Town recently opened.

Associated currently is next to Oeno on the east side of Old Town Square.

While the Associated deal is almost done, Oeno’s fate is less certain. There’s a chance the bar and event venue may move to 4,200 square feet where Sullivan Higdon & Sink is at 255 N. Mead just south of the square.

Sullivan Higdon & Sink had just more than 22,000 square feet but is reconfiguring its space in about 18,000 square feet.

The Sullivan Higdon & Sink remodeling has already started, but whether Oeno will move to the building is still undecided.

Regardless, Old Town developer Dave Burk wants Oeno’s existing space and likely will pair it with the space Associated is vacating for a new potential tenant.

That tenant could be The Eagle, which is farther south in Old Town at 825 E. Douglas.

Previously, Have You Heard? reported that The Eagle may move to the former Henry’s department store at Broadway and William. Burk and business partners Dave Wells and Brandon Steven have a contract on the building, which Slawson Cos. currently owns.

Earlier this year, the partners bought The Eagle’s building. They’re going to demolish it and build a new home for Cargill.

The partners have been working on new space for The Eagle, but it appears Henry’s won’t be it.

Eagle president and publisher Roy Heatherly would not comment.

Burk says he, Wells and Steven have through the end of January to do due diligence on the Henry’s space.

They had construction fences around the building while removing asbestos, but they’re down now.

“It’s costing us money daily to have those up until we really need them again,” Burk says.

He says the partners are still interested in buying the building and that there are potential tenants for it.

“Yes, but I can’t tell you who they are.”

Nor will Burk discuss The Eagle’s possible move or what’s happening with Oeno, which is about 7,000 square feet with its bar and Champagne Room venue space combined.

Oeno owner Melad Stephan says he still has a couple of years left on his lease but is happy to work with Burk on a move.

“He’s been a good landlord to me.”

Stephan says there’s also a chance he could close. He says he’s not sure what he wants to do.

“It has to be the right place … for me to move.”

And it has to be in Old Town, he says.

Stephan, who opened Oeno in late 2006, has always said everything he has is for sale. These days, that may be especially so if it means not having to reopen elsewhere, whether it’s the former Sullivan Higdon & Sink space or somewhere else.

“I’m getting old for this. I don’t know if I want to do it again.”

Associated and Sullivan Higdon & Sink representatives say they’re excited about their changes.

“We’ve been thinking about it for a while,” says Shawn Steward, Associated vice president of client service and public relations.

When the agency moved to Old Town Square in 2004, it had about 45 employees. Today, it has 13.

Steward says the extra space – the agency has about 15,000 square feet – often “makes collaboration and creativity a little more difficult.”

He says the idea is to “be closer together and really get into that collaborative nature … that we think yields better work.”

The former Oasis space, which Associated likely will occupy by early next year, is 3,220 square feet.

“It’s very important to us to be part of the central Wichita business scene and … the vibrancy of the area,” Steward says. “We’ve definitely enjoyed being here and … we’re glad that we’re still going to be here just around the corner.”

Sullivan Higdon & Sink has been in Old Town for 30 years of its existence. For 10 years, the agency was The Eagle’s neighbor along Douglas.

It’s been at its current site for 20 years, and the agency just signed a 10-year lease for the reduced space.

“Really, the great news here is we’re committed to staying in Old Town, and we’re reinvesting in that building,” says Lathi deSilva, vice president of reputation management.

She says a lot has changed in the time the agency has been in the building, which was a former Coleman stove factory.

“That space was designed to carry our entire operation,” deSilva says.

There were about 70 Sullivan Higdon & Sink employees there around 2008.

Today, the agency hovers around 40 to 45 employees, but it also has a Kansas City office with another 100 employees.

The agency also has what deSilva calls satellite offices, such as in Denver and Atlanta, where field personnel for various clients work.

In addition, she says, the agency works differently today than it did two decades ago. For instance, she says, the digital age doesn’t require as much creative space as in the past.

The idea, deSilva says, is “let’s make this the right kind of space for the way we work today.”

“Creative folks really like to have an inspiring space.”

She says the agency is packed “a little sardinelike” on its first floor while remodeling starts on the second.

Look for video tours of the new Sullivan Higdon & Sink and Associated spaces closer to their completion along with news on where Oeno and The Eagle may – or may not –move.

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers