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Smoothie King and two other businesses to open in former Rock Island Depot space

WICHITA — Some people buy sports cars or take extravagant trips for their midlife crises, but Neil Bhakta is choosing to share his with all of Wichita by opening three new businesses.

The Smoothie King partner is planning his fourth Smoothie King site, this time downtown in the former Rock Island Depot, where he also plans a new restaurant and venue space.

"This is going to be my midlife crisis project right here," Bhakta says.

"I love the building that we're going into.”

Old Town Martini, which was the last business there, closed in 2009.

Occidental Management purchased the building earlier this year as part of its purchase of the Union Station campus.

"They're going to restore the whole exterior of the building," Bhakta says of what he'll lease. "It's going to be a nice project."

It's one he says he previously wouldn't have even considered.

In the dozen or so years of having Smoothie King, Bhakta says, "We never looked at downtown."

That's even though he grew up in the area.

"We actually left," Bhakta says. "Downtown in the '90s, we didn't have much faith in it ... coming back."

That's what has happened, though, he says.

"What they've done downtown is amazing."

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