Carrie Rengers

Spaghetti Works building to be a 'live, play, work' concept

There are more apartments coming to downtown, this time at the former Spaghetti Works building between Union Station and Intrust Bank Arena.

There will be a “live, play, work” concept at the space, says Nick Esterline, one of the partners in the deal.

“There’s opportunities with the … way we’re trying to look at laying this thing out for maybe some pretty cool office. Maybe some retail, restaurant, you know all combined with the residential aspect.”

Seneca Property, which is owned by Esterline and Brad Saville, both of Landmark Commercial Real Estate, and Kansas City-based Sunflower Development Group finalized the purchase of the property last week.

Spaghetti Works closed in 2004, and Salina-based Sellers Blue Power bought the four-story, approximately 40,000-square-foot building the next year. The company never proceeded with its initial plans to redevelop the property.

Seneca Property’s plans for redevelopment coincide with the revitalization of Union Station next door.

“This is just a great site for downtown,” Esterline says.

“It’s a catalyst site,” he says. “It’s just a key site that connects this side of the tracks to that side. There’s so much opportunity to really make this (a) pretty special transition spot to the Intrust Arena and everything that’s going on that way.”

The group is still finalizing plans for the building along with a 10,000-square-foot warehouse in back and the parking lot on the other side.

“There’s adequate land to build additional buildings,” Saville says.

Parking would be on the first level or two with structures built on top of it, similar to how it is at Eaton Place.

“I just think there’s a lot more opportunity than what the existing structure could allow,” Esterline says.

The existing building has room for 40 apartments.

“There’s still a need for over 2,000 apartment units over the next five years,” Saville says of what the downtown area is projected to need. “The apartments we could put in this building really won’t even put a dent in that.”

Seneca Property is looking to start construction of the multiphase project this fall. The first phase could be ready in eight to 10 months after that. The entire project could take 15 to 24 months.

Esterline won’t share details yet, but he says the apartments will have “some pretty cool features we’ve seen in other cities.”

“Amenities that frankly haven’t been done yet in downtown.”

Saville and Esterline say part of the redevelopment challenge is that the building was built in 1894 and is on state and national historic registers.

“Doing it correctly so it complies with the historic aspect is going to be the challenge,” Esterline says.

That’s where Sunflower comes in, he says. The company specializes in doing work on historic properties.

“They’ve done multiple buildings like this,” Esterline says. “And that was one of the things that Brad and I went after, somebody that could understand that side of it to make sure we didn’t misstep.”

Saville says the building was built as a wholesale grocery warehouse. The front of it is the east side, which has a dock facing the railroad tracks.

“The building’s actually in pretty good structural shape,” Esterline says.

Another challenge in the area is a steady stream of homeless people in and around Naftzger Memorial Park, which is next to the parking lot adjacent to the Spaghetti Works building.

“The first time we started thinking about this situation, we walked through the park,” Saville says.

“Quickly,” Esterline adds.

“We were walking a little quicker than we thought we would be,” Saville says. “They’re here right now because the building’s vacant, and it’s quiet and peaceful and nobody bothers them.”

He says he and Esterline have learned from other markets that homeless populations will move elsewhere once activity starts in an area.

“You know everybody’s thinking about this park,” Esterline says of city officials.

He says he’s had some “positive conversations” on all aspects of the redevelopment.

“We’ve had some very, very preliminary discussions about vision and thoughts,” Esterline says.

“Because we believe it’s such a critical site to downtown, we’re … approaching it more of a help us think through this as opposed to us tell you what we want to do,” he says. “I think they see what it could be. … There’s a good opportunity to get a lot of participation in building the vision.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers