Just as Sudha Tokala has closed on her purchase of the former Finney State Office Building, she’s got another downtown property under contract.
Tokala, a pharmacist and real estate investor, is looking to buy the former Henry’s department store building at 124 S. Broadway, which is the northeast corner of William and Broadway across the intersection from the Finney building.
“I have no idea what I’m going to do with it yet,” Tokala says.
She says she plans office space at the former Finney building and likely will do the same at the Henry’s building. That’s if she closes on it.
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“We’re just doing due diligence on it.”
Last fall, Have You Heard? reported that businessmen Brandon Steven, Dave Burk and Dave Wells were buying the building from Slawson Cos. with plans to possibly remodel the space for a new home for The Wichita Eagle.
Instead, The Eagle moved to 330 N. Mead in Old Town Square.
Slawson still owns the 40,000-square-foot Henry’s building, which was a big part of the downtown Wichita retail scene from the store’s 1948 opening until its closing in 1984.
“To the right person, the Henry’s building creates a great opportunity,” says Stuart Kowalski, Slawson’s general counsel.
“Our efforts are really focused at NewMarket Square, Cadillac Lake and Tallgrass East,” he says.
Tallgrass East is the company’s 40 acres at the northeast corner 21st and Webb Road.
Kowalski says it’s great to see more things happening in the city’s core.
“We are excited about the revitalization of downtown.”
Tokala has been an active investor in local real estate. She is a partner in two Wichita hotels and plans to develop a Staybridge hotel near Eisenhower National Airport northwest of Ridge Road and Kellogg.
She also recently purchased 17.5 acres of school-surplus land near 29th and Woodlawn from the Wichita school district. She said she bought that as an investment and hasn’t decided what to do with it yet.
If Tokala buys the Henry’s building, she says it will be some time before she starts work on it.
“I have several projects going,” she says of other things in her life.
Tokala says it’s her love of history that’s prompting her interest in the downtown spaces.
“These buildings have a lot of history in them.”