Carrie Rengers

One of Old Town’s last undeveloped buildings to get new life

Brian Cunningham calls 115 N. Mead one of the last undeveloped properties in Old Town. He and partners Dave Burk, Dave Wells and John Shawver are converting the building into mixed-use space that will include an office collective and a couple of mini restaurant concepts.
Brian Cunningham calls 115 N. Mead one of the last undeveloped properties in Old Town. He and partners Dave Burk, Dave Wells and John Shawver are converting the building into mixed-use space that will include an office collective and a couple of mini restaurant concepts. Courtesy photo

With so much happening in downtown right now, it might seem like the redevelopment of 115 N. Mead is simply one more project.

Brian Cunningham says it’s more than that.

“It’s literally one of the last undeveloped buildings in Old Town.”

The former Downtown Mini Storage building opened as a broom factory in 1901. The building was rebuilt in 1912.

Its south wall faces Union Station, and its west wall has views of vintage trains at the Great Plains Transportation Museum.

Cunningham, whose partners in the project are Dave Burk, Dave Wells and John Shawver, says the redevelopment of the building is another “financial investment in the city’s core right now.”

He says with nearby Union Station, Naftzger Park and new Cargill headquarters, “It’s amazing.”

(FILE VIDEO -- JULY 31, 2018) Occidental Management, which bought Wichita's historic Union Station building five years ago, has moved into the second phase of their renovation of the building.

The Mead Street project will have a mix of uses that capitalize on the structure of the 24,000-square-foot building, which is part of a larger building where there are already offices, such as Spangenberg Phillips Tice Architecture and KMUW, FM-89.1.

The first floor will feature the Mead Street Office Collective, which will be almost 20 private offices with shared common space.

The offices will be 250 to 500 square feet.

“People will be able to grow from 250 to 500 square feet just by taking the space next to them,” Cunningham says. “We’ll construct it in a way that that wall can come out.”

He says the idea is “you still have your own space but it’s . . . in a collaborative environment.”

“Having other people around you, there’s just something about it. . . . There’s something great that happens.”

A long, wide corridor with original concrete pillars will create a shared space with sitting areas, a bar area with high-top tables and stools and possibly a shuffleboard table.

“The corridor’s actually also part of the environment,” Cunningham says. “We want it to be inviting. . . . It’s pretty cool looking.”

He says he sees it as an amenity for tenants to come hang out before concerts or whatever else is happening downtown.

Facing the corridor, the front wall of each suite will be what he calls “a pretty impressive floor-to-ceiling storefront glass complete wall.”

There will be blinds or curtains for privacy.

Utilities will be included in the tenants’ cost of the spaces.

“For them, they can just focus on their business,” Cunningham says.

He says he and his partners are still working on pricing.

“It’ll be competitive for sure.”

On the east end of the building, there will be a couple of food concepts.

One will have “the ability to serve out of a window or its own independent door,” Cunningham says.

He says he envisions a “grab-and-go type of concept” for people who “don’t necessarily have time for the whole restaurant experience.”

However, there will be a large balcony on the second floor that serves as a covered patio for the restaurant concept below for anyone who wants to take a seat.

Cunningham says the other restaurant space is “just too good of an option for a late-night food option just with all the activity down there.”

“It’s just too valuable a spot to just have for an office,” he says. “It’s going to be fun working on that.”

The top floor of the building will be split between two tenants who will have access to balconies on either end of the building.

One on the west side “has all these amazing views of all those vintage trains right there because . . . that’s where they loaded the brooms on the top floor.”

Cunningham says he’s hoping the patio spaces will be collaborative areas.

“The other thing I’m really excited about, we’re going to try to preserve as much of the inside stuff as possible,” he says.

That includes “just this awesome 110-year-old freight elevator” with massive gears and pulleys that he’ll dismantle for a new passenger elevator.

Cunningham says he may work with local artists to make a table out of the old elevator or maybe suspend it from the ceiling.

He says he and his partners plan to save “anything and everything we can use.”

A ramp to the basement will be converted to a staircase. That area won’t be offices.

“That’s a story for another time,” Cunningham says.

WDM Architects is finalizing plans. Wells’ company, Key Construction, is the contractor.

Key has already gutted the space.

“It’s just a big, wide-open space,” Cunningham says.

He says he met with representatives of the Tallgrass Film Festival and offered the space, which is where the Festival’s Friday gala is now planned.

Cunningham says it’ll be a good opportunity for people to see some of the space.

“A lot of people have never been in that building,” he says. “It’ll be fun.”

Reach Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com.
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