Carrie Rengers

What? Cargill hasn’t looked at your property?

UPDATED – Sometimes news shows up at your doorstep, and not just in the form of a paper in a blue bag.

Late last week, seven Cargill executives and a real estate broker toured The Wichita Eagle building at 825 E. Douglas, across from the entrance to Old Town.

Their tour guides were Brandon Steven and Dave Burk who, along with partner Dave Wells, are expected to close on their purchase of the building shortly.

This follows a Cargill site-selection committee’s previous tour of the building.

In March, Have You Heard? reported that Cargill is looking for new space for its Wichita operations. Initially, that search included sites outside of Kansas. In May, the Minnesota-based company reported it would keep its Wichita headquarters here.

In June, we reported on the pending sale of the newspaper’s building. The Eagle, which moved its printing operation to Kansas City, no longer needs as much room and is looking for new downtown space.

At the time, Steven said one of the partners’ options is to keep the existing 181,000-square-foot building and remodel it for a mixed-use development of retail and residential.

Here’s the other option, though the partners aren’t commenting on it: They would demolish the building and build a new one for Cargill. If that doesn’t happen, they’d do the mixed-use development instead.

Cargill spokesman Mike Martin won’t comment on the company’s possible move to The Eagle’s site.

“We are looking at more than three options and have not yet narrowed the number.”

After Cargill announced that it would remain in Wichita, there was an expectation that its list of potential new homes would narrow. Instead, it expanded.

The company has considered a lot more than three sites.

They include well-known possibilities such as Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus and a potential new building at WaterWalk downtown.

There are options that have not received any media attention, such as property Jeff Lange owns at Seneca and I-235, which includes a potential whole campus built around Cargill with restaurants and retail.

There’s another Steven-Burk-Wells property downtown at Second and St. Francis.

There’s Burk’s property where the USD 259 administration currently is, which is by Cargill’s Innovation Center and could be connected to it.

There are city sites north of the Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview and a couple of others south of the future new library.

There’s Dave Murfin’s property at the southeast corner of 13th and Webb across from the Waterfront.

Then there’s Union Station. And they even looked at former Boeing property and the current River Vista apartments site.

Unlike a lot of deals, most people involved in properties Cargill has even glanced at are being particularly careful. There are a lot of confidentiality agreements and a few sternly worded warnings about talking, too.

It looks like Cargill’s search could last into this fall. We’ll keep you posted.

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers

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