What was a grass farm a little more than 15 years ago is now the busiest retail center in northwest Wichita.
“It was literally the edge of town,” said Jerry Jones, a broker for Slawson Cos., which owns and develops NewMarket Square at 21st and Maize Road.
“When we started developing out there, compared to the national standards, it was under-retailed. There was more demand than supply.”
NewMarket has about 80 businesses, including about 15 restaurants.
Developer Don Slawson acquired the land in 1997, Jones said. After getting the property zoned for commercial use, the company started working on leasing and development plans, and Wal-Mart acquired its site in 2000, he said.
The first phase of building for anchors Bed Bath and Beyond, Old Navy and Borders Books opened in July 2001, Jones said.
It’s been growing ever since, even as businesses such as Borders have closed and others, such as Marshall’s, have taken their place.
More than 835,000 square feet of buildings create a lot of options at the site, which is zoned for more than 1 million square feet of development.
Several factors make it a successful development, Jones said.
“The tenant mix has a lot to do with it,” Jones said. “There are a lot of popular restaurants, a nice mix of stores where people go regularly to get staples with the grocery sections at Wal-Mart and Target, and a nice mix of stores in terms of national chains and locally based independent retailers.”
The layout of the development, which is walkable and has wide sidewalks, helps keep the site busy in warmer months, Jones said.
For Michele Wheeler, owner of Beau Monde Spa and Boutique, the decision to add a west-side location at NewMarket was easy.
“We’re been out there six and a half years,” Wheeler said. “When we decided to go out west, there really was no other choice. The best choice was NewMarket with its high visibility, and traffic counts are obviously amazing. It’s great to be in the same center as other high-end retailers, and Slawson has been accommodating and easy to work with.”
Jason Bell, co-owner of Specs Eyewear, feels the same. The west-side Specs opened in 2003.
“It seemed like it was just the obvious place to go on the west side,” Bell said. “There was really nothing else in the 21st and Maize area, and we could see a lot of potential in those neighborhoods.”
Slawson is working on a phase of development north of the Super Target at 29th and Maize that will add about 120,000 square feet. Those businesses, which have not yet been announced, could open next year, Jones said.
Over the next couple of years, Jones said, Slawson hopes to complete the plaza phase in the middle of the development.