Carrie Rengers

ITC Great Plains to open Wichita office at the Lux

A power company is once again going to be home in the building that Kansas Gas & Electric built in 1953 at the northwest corner of First and Market.

ITC Great Plains, which builds and operates high-voltage electric transmission lines, is taking 1,500 square feet on the second floor of the building.

Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey renamed the building the Lux when they bought it to redevelop it 2011.

The 7-story building has commercial tenants on the first and second floors and residential apartments on the remaining floors.

The apartments are about 50 percent leased. On the first floor, there’s just over 9,000 square feet of commercial space left to lease, and there‘s a little less than 6,000 square feet left to lease on the second floor.

Leisa Lowry and Marty Gilchrist of J.P. Weigand & Sons handled the ITC lease.

This will be ITC’s first Wichita office.

“We’re trying to get more of the word out about who we are, what we do and what we provide,” says ITC president Kristine Schmidt.

The company, which is a subsidiary of Michigan-based ITC Holdings, is the 10th-largest transmission line owner in the country.

Schmidt says consumers and land owners tend to lump electric companies together.

“We want to make sure we’re differentiating ourselves from our competition.”

ITC Great Plains started in 2006. The company already opened a Topeka office to be close to decision makers, Schmidt says.

It also has offices in Dodge City and Oklahoma City. Schmidt says Wichita and Wichita Mid-Continent Airport are going to be handy points between the other offices.

“There’s a tremendous efficiency gain.”

She says the company works extensively with land owners while building its lines and that not being well known costs time.

“We always spend a lot of time educating them,” Schmidt says of having to explain what the company is.

“We’re trying to change that.”

Kim Goodnight, ITC’s regional manager of local government and community affairs, will be in the Wichita office full time.

“He will be becoming much more active,” Schmidt says. “His job is to look at those opportunities for ways … of increasing our voice and presence in the area.”

She says having a presence will be key for the company moving forward.

“We become part of the communities in which we serve,” Schmidt says. “We’re really excited to become part of the fabric of the Wichita community.”

She did not know about the Lux’s “powerful” past.

“Well, it’s good that … it’s being used in a brand-new way.”

Reach Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or Follow her on Twitter: @CarrieRengers.