Carrie Rengers

The tallest building in Kansas gets some upgrades along with some new tenants

UPDATED — Four years after buying the Epic Center for $11.5 million, Phil Ruffin has invested a substantial amount in renovations at the 22-story building and has several new tenants, including a new restaurant for the first floor.

“I believe that he just sees the potential there,” says property manager Melanie Brace.

He spent $1.5 million upgrading elevators.

“They are faster and more efficient,” Brace says.

He spent $60,000 upgrading the restrooms on the first floor and $21,000 restoring wood and doing a brass-to-bronze project in the elevators and part of the lobby.

“It brings it up to date,” Brace says.

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Also on the first floor, Main Street Beauty Suites opened this summer.

The aestheticians there offer facials, eyelash extensions and waxing among other things. They also have room to rent to other aestheticians.

“They’re a really nice addition to the building,” Brace says.

Coming to the first floor next month is Il Primo Epic, the second site for Il Primo Espresso Caffe located in Normandie Center at Central and Woodlawn.

Daniel Mariotti bought that business in February and wanted to open a second one downtown.

“I’ve been excited with the way downtown is transforming,” he says.

The new Il Primo will be open 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Its grand opening is Nov. 1 with a party on the 22nd floor.

For daily service, the restaurant will offer lunch, including a variety of sandwiches, along with hot breakfasts.

“We’re known for our breakfast sandwiches,” Mariotti says.

There are all sorts of espresso-based coffee drinks as well with coffee from Local Roasters.

Mariotti also is just finishing a renovation at his Normandie Il Primo.

“It looks nothing like it did before.”

He says he’s interested in other sites as well.

“I’d love to be able to explore some more.”

First, Mariotti says, “I’d like to get these two done correctly.”

Brace says the renovations on the first floor plus the addition of the restaurant and spa are significant.

“I think that all of the changes to the first floor . . . are going to bring that energy and that life back to this building.”

There are new tenants on other floors as well.

United Fidelity Funding just signed a lease to take 1,872 square feet on the third floor. Patrick Ahern of NAI Martens handled the deal.

Jon Cyphert is director of real estate for Ruffin Properties.

Immigration attorneys Greg Beuke and Marcos Montemayor recently took 2,500 square feet on the 10th floor.

Occupancy is at about 70 percent.

Brace says she’s particularly looking to lease the 20th, 21st and 22nd floors, which have a combined 33,127 square feet and “the best views in Kansas because we’re the tallest building in Kansas.”

She says she can separately lease the 20th floor, which is 13,586 square feet. However, there’s a designated elevator for the top three floors, so Brace says she’d like to lease them together if possible.

If occupancy increases enough, Brace says she also wants to add a fitness center, likely on the third floor where other amenities are.

“I have a lot of ideas.”