Carrie Rengers

Clifton Square changes hands for the first time

Four of the five partners who bought Clifton Square are, from right, Adam Steiner, Mike Corley, James Lyon and Jason Clark. Steiner’s father, Kent, also is a partner in the 45-year-old center, which they purchased for $1.4 million.
Four of the five partners who bought Clifton Square are, from right, Adam Steiner, Mike Corley, James Lyon and Jason Clark. Steiner’s father, Kent, also is a partner in the 45-year-old center, which they purchased for $1.4 million. The Wichita Eagle

In June, Have You Heard? reported that Clifton Square could sell by the end of the month, and that’s what has happened.

Jo Zakas, who started the shopping and dining center at 3700 E. Douglas 45 years ago, has sold the center for $1.4 million to a group of real estate investors.

“They seem very enthusiastic,” she says of Mike Corley, Adam Steiner, James Lyon and Jason Clark.

Steiner’s father, Kent, also is an investor in it.

Zakas says almost all of the tenants over Clifton Square’s 27,000 square feet and almost 20 buildings are millennials now, as are the new owners, except for the elder Steiner.

“I’ve given them millennium management so they all ought to get along well together,” she says.

The investors are partners in other deals together as well, such as Woodlawn Park Apartments and the property at 11th and Bitting where R Coffeehouse, the Farm Shop and Songbird Juice Co. are.

“We all kind of grew up together in the same neighborhood,” Lyon says of the greater College Hill area.

They say they watched the area, including Clifton Square, change through the years.

“I think Douglas has gotten a lot better,” Adam Steiner says.

He points to the Douglas Design District and restaurants such as the Hill and the Wine Dive that are helping the area grow and prosper.

“I think it’s come a long ways,” Steiner says.

“I remember coming here when I was a child going over to a little candy store that used to be over there on the way to school,” Clark says.

He says Zakas has “done a great job” with the center.

“She had the dream to bring all these buildings into this area,” Clark says of the older homes that house Clifton Square businesses.

Most were there when Zakas opened the center, but she moved a few in as well.

“Most of them were built back in the ’20s,” Clark says.

With older buildings comes the need for renovations, the investors say.

“You buy a house in College Hill, you’re going to have a little bit to do,” Lyon says.

“No wholesale changes,” Corley says. “Maybe some modernization.”

That likely will include an updated sign, new lighting and landscaping.

“There’s a lot of landscaping that could be done,” Corley says.

“We just want to try to do what we can to improve the property over time,” Steiner says.

The idea is to “just have more of a presence, I would say,” Lyon says.

“Fortunately for us, there’s five of us, and that’s obviously more hands on deck,” Lyon says. “So I think that from that perspective we just work away like some little ants every day and just, you know, take the ball and run with it and … just kind of speed up the process as far as improvement.”

There are only two empty spaces at the center, which is home to Ziggy’s Pizza, Dempsey’s Burger Pub and College Hill Creamery among other businesses.

“We’re really focused on the tenants that are here,” Corley says. “We’re wanting to hear from them and see what their ideas and thoughts are.”

Lyon says there’s a lot to do, but the partners aren’t daunted.

“It’s going to need some love,” he says.

“It’s going to take a little while, but we’re young and we’re hungry, so I think it’s going to work out.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers

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