Carrie Rengers

Sudha Tokala seeks more than $12 million in city help for downtown development

UPDATED — Pharmacist and nascent developer Sudha Tokala has purposely been quiet about her plans for a more than $125 million medical and trade school complex downtown, but she and her plans are about to get much more public since she’s asking the city for more than $12 million in help.

On Tuesday, the City Council will consider Tokala’s request for $12,002,374 for special assessments through the city’s facade improvement and asbestos remediation programs.

Tokala would not comment when asked about her request.

She owns the former Finney State Office Building, which is two joined buildings at 130 S. Market and 230 E. William. She also owns the former Henry’s building at 124 S. Broadway, Broadway Plaza at 105 S. Broadway and Sutton Place at 209 E. William. The buildings are clustered in one area of downtown.

According to the city’s agenda, “The complex would include schools for various health professions in the former State Office building and use the surrounding buildings for supporting services associated with health education and student housing.”

Facade work would include new doors, windows, stucco repair and tuck-pointing.

“Work on the former State Office Building will include removing the 20-year old stucco finish and returning the facade to its historic look,” the agenda says.

It also says Tokala agrees to “additional safeguards to protect the City,” including financing construction costs until work is done and only then being reimbursed.

At Broadway Plaza, asbestos funds would not be released until Tokala has a lease and franchise agreement for a Marriott AC hotel or another “acceptable brand.”

At the Henry’s Building, funds wouldn’t be released until Tokala has a lease with a technical school for 25,000 square feet.

That school likely would include a culinary program tied to a food court and other restaurants.

At the former state building, funds would not be released until Tokala proves pre-accreditation status with a medical school, an agreement with an operator and proof of funding for the operating escrow along with a lease for 150,000 square feet for the college.

Sutton Place would have the same requirements as the former state building.

Neither City Council member Brandon Johnson, whose district the complex would be in, nor Cindy Claycomb, who represents the district just north of there, have had a chance to study Tokala’s petition yet. Both say the development has the chance to be significant for downtown.

“It has great potential to really change even more of downtown and take some areas . . . that need a facelift and give it to them,” Johnson says.

“Obviously, the buildings that we’re looking at, if those were developed, that would certainly be a boon for downtown,” Claycomb says. “I have no doubt about that.”

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Carrie Rengers has been a reporter for almost three decades, including 16 years at The Wichita Eagle. Her Have You Heard? column of business scoops runs five days a week in The Eagle. If you have a tip, please e-mail or tweet her or call 316-268-6340.