Two decades ago, Developer Marv Schellenberg first eyed the almost 150 acres at the northeast corner of 37th and Ridge Road for possible development.
The land was flat – some parts sandy with no growth and some parts successful for the farm family that tended wheat and a watermelon patch.
“They had good watermelons,” Schellenberg says.
He knew the land held more potential, though, thanks to its proximity to development and K-96. So he waited.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Wichita Eagle
“It’s just a thing of patience.”
Now, Schellenberg has broken ground on Estancia, his new 148-acre mixed-use development at the property.
The former watermelon patch will have 98 acres of residential, with 207 homes between $250,000 and $400,000, and 52 acres of commercial.
“We’re really taking it from that watermelon patch to … a beautiful development,” Schellenberg says.
He says he’ll begin construction on model homes, which should be ready by August, in the next few weeks.
Schellenberg also has his first deal for the commercial portion of the development, Estancia Plaza.
Indiana-based Mainstreet will build a 70,036-square-foot, 94-bed transitional care and assisted living facility on five acres at 7057 W. Village Circle.
“They do these things all over the U.S.,” Schellenberg says.
“I just appreciated their attention to quality and to the details,” he says. “They’ll do what it takes to make it look great, so that just fit very well with our philosophy.”
Mainstreet is doing the development with Tier I, which is a partnership between Schellenberg Development and the Wichita private equity firm Birds Eye Holdings.
The transitional care portion of the project will include short-stay rehabilitation and therapy.
All the care will have a hospitality theme along with amenities such as a movie theater, a therapy gym, a game room, a spa, an outdoor rehabilitation courtyard and an on-site chef.
Mainstreet, which bills itself as the nation’s biggest developer of transitional care properties, will employ 90 people at Estancia.
The $17.5 million development will be ready by late this year.
Currently, utilities are being put in for the commercial and residential developments.
“Streets will begin construction the first part of March and be finished in May,” Schellenberg says.
He says architecture for the homes, most of which he anticipates being in the $300,000 to $400,000 range, will include American Craftsman, Tudor and Mission styles.
At other developments around Wichita, Schellenberg says he’s noticed that “a lot of the homes have started to look the same.”
“We’re just trying to change that up a little bit.”
He says another thing that will set apart Estancia is its attention to efficiency and being “just better stewards with what we’ve been blessed with.”
That includes energy-efficient products, such as all LED lights as part of the base price for houses, and attic fans and energy packages.
“It’s those kinds of things that we’re starting to look at,” he says.
Also, Schellenberg says he’ll use native grasses for landscaping to save on water usage.
“There’s a lot more thought to it than just planting stuff. It’s how efficient can we be?”
At common areas among the residential properties, there will be pools of water and waterways, which Schellenberg says will add to the appeal.
Estancia doesn’t mean anything in particular, but he says it sets a tone for the overall development.
“We wanted, naturally, a very pretty name.”
Schellenberg says it’s bold, too.
He doesn’t have any other commercial deals to announce yet, but Schellenberg says they’ll be coming.
“It’s just at the very front end,” he says. “We have a lot of interest, but turning interest into contracts takes a lot of time.”
Schellenberg says Estancia’s location is what will make it most attractive to home buyers and potential commercial users.
“It’s still close to NewMarket Square,” he says. “It’s got good access to 96.”
Schellenberg says Estancia residents and people who work there can be anywhere in Wichita in 15 minutes thanks to K-96.
“It makes it just an ideal spot.”
Though the land could still support some watermelons, Schellenberg isn’t planning even a ceremonial patch to commemorate the farm property.
“Probably not,” he says. “That’s work.”