You don’t have to be a real estate expert to know that Ridge Road between Maple and Kellogg has been one of the hottest areas of Wichita in the past couple of years.
A mere glance says it all, with new restaurants such as Twin Peaks, Abuelo’s and Pie Five Pizza, and retail such as a relocated Cox Communications Solutions store.
Even with other growing areas, such as Greenwich near K-96 and at 21st Street and the perpetually popular Maize Road, the Ridge Road corridor might have had the most activity per square foot.
But why? It’s not like there were suddenly lots of new houses in the area or more businesses bringing shoppers and diners.
“The houses that were there were underserved,” said Dan Unruh of InSite Real Estate Group.
Lowe’s already anchored Maple and Ridge Road on the southwest corner, then Unruh said he was successful in repositioning the southeast corner from a residential area into a limited commercial property.
“That was the catalyst for all of the other development,” he said.
Although the west side already had a lot of growth, Unruh said this retail corridor was still necessary.
The development of NewMarket Square … satisfied the market for northwest Wichita, but near west Wichita still needed to be served.
Dan Unruh, of InSite Real Estate Group, on the growth at Maple and Ridge
“The development of NewMarket Square … satisfied the market for northwest Wichita, but near west Wichita still needed to be served,” he said. “What happened was this area provided the perfect infill complement. … It was far enough away to have its own market.”
Brad Saville of Landmark Commercial Real Estate said the corridor’s proximity to Kellogg and the airport along with its strong traffic counts all day are what make it attractive.
“It’s really handy for people who are downtown.”
Though there’s not a lot of vacant real estate left in the area, Unruh said there is still underutilized real estate there, including homes that are east of IHOP and Carlos O’Kelly’s.
“To me, it’s logical that those properties could be redeveloped,” Unruh said.
Where the next hot spot will be is tough to say, though.
“I can’t think of an area of town that is going to pop like Maple and Ridge did,” Unruh said.
“Of course, everybody’s always out looking for that,” said developer Steve Wheeler.
He and Steve Barrett and some others are developing the Village at Greenwich at 21st and Greenwich.
“There’s no tea leaves that I’m looking at,” Wheeler said of finding the next major growth area.
He is, though, enjoying “some great response” at 21st and Greenwich, which is just south of the new Greenwich Place, which has the Wichita Sports Forum and retailers BuyBuy Baby, Bed Bath & Beyond and World Market.
“There’s a lot of people that want to be up there now,” Wheeler said.
Saville points to successes at the Waterfront at 13th and Webb Road and development at 29th and Maize Road and 37th and Maize Road.
“Those pockets are cool.”
However, he said, “The most exciting thing, of course, is Greenwich and 96.”
Greenwich was the hot spot for a while until the economy tanked.
“We kind of had that dip,” Wheeler said. “We hit 2008 and really had a pretty good slowdown in everything. That’s no big secret.
“It’s been slow coming back, but now that it has caught fire again, it is really going.”
Unruh said surrounding metro areas are attracting development attention, too.
“Derby is again a solid player,” he said, adding that Delano is, too, “with a lot of upside.”
The local flavor of this neighborhood really appeals to a broad demographic.
Dan Unruh, of InSite, on the attraction of Delano
“The local flavor of this neighborhood really appeals to a broad demographic.”
With the coming aquatic center in Goddard, Unruh said that is a potential growth area as well.
Developer Jay Maxwell agrees.
“They’re doing just some cool stuff out in Goddard,” he said.
Throughout Wichita, Maxwell said, “there’s little pockets of cool stuff going on.”
After years of being “in some serious denial,” he said the 21st and Amidon area has bounced back with New Leaf Plaza on the southwest corner, among other things.
Maxwell said downtown used to be downtrodden, too.
“Then downtown’s kicked it up a notch.”
Unruh said to keep an eye on where apartments are built.
“Given the prolific development of multifamily, I think it’s logical for retail to follow,” he said.
Maxwell said northeast Wichita isn’t what you would call a pocket of opportunity, but he said that’s the biggest area to keep an eye on for more growth.
“Everything happens northeast,” he said. “Everybody that wants to come to Wichita wants to come to northeast because that’s where the money is.”