A prominent piece of land in eastern Sedgwick County has new owners, and plans for its next chapter are forming.
Last week, the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission approved the creation of the Spring Ranch Planned Unit Development — and a shift from single-family residential zoning — at the southwest corner of U.S. 54 and 159th Street East.The Stark Family, well-known in Wichita business and founders of ComfortCare Homes, sold the land in May to development partners Johnny Stevens and Clark Investment Group in a deal facilitated by Keller Williams Signature Partners and Landmark Commercial Real Estate.
Developer plans emphasize flexibility, with the potential for commercial and residential uses on the 122.4-acre property. According to city/county records, the total appraised value of the land, which falls between the cities of Wichita and Andover, is $648,050.
While MAPC documents noted potential commercial development on parcels 1 and 2 — which are closest to the 159th and U.S. 54 intersection — of the six parcels designated on the property, the PUD plan also stated market conditions will dictate what type of development would begin first on the land.
Stephen Clark II, vice president of development at Clark Investment Group, said in emailed comments that developers “anticipate this project will be primarily residential.”
“While the market will ultimately determine how it develops, the point here is neighbors can expect a quality project,” he said. “We execute similar developments all over the country, which have been well-received.”
Wichita-based Clark Investment Group, which has business interests in 23 states, and Stevens are the developers behind The Waterfront, and during last Thursday’s meeting highlighted their experience to reassure area residents.
“That should give people some level of confidence that this developer knows what they’re doing,” said MKEC Engineering’s Brian Lindebak, who spoke on behalf of the owners at the MAPC meeting.
Neighbors voiced concern about the project last week heading into and during the meeting — with issues ranging from increased traffic in the area, to the desire to maintain hedgerows next to their property, to how potential multifamily development on the land could impact their neighborhoods and property values.
Developers sought to reassure residents. During the meeting, Lindebak said amendments to the PUD were added that would address two of the main concerns.
- On the south and west sides of Parcel 4 (on the southwest portion of the property that is near residential neighborhoods) there would be a 200-foot buffer where only single-family homes would potentially be built. No multi-family units would be within that buffer;
- Hedgerows will be preserved on the south and west sides of Parcel 4 as well as on Parcel 3.
Lindebak said ownership had personally reached out to several residents in the area prior to the meeting.
Clark confirmed that communication and said the hedgerows are “just as valuable to us as they are to them, so we want them preserved, as well.”
Multiple residents who spoke at the meeting said they appreciated the quick response, but some worries — including with traffic and roads — remained.
As there are more details and planning with the development to come, Clark said the lines of communication are open with neighbors to the property.
“Once we became aware of some concerns, we immediately reached out to reach those individuals to better understand them,” Clark said. “Based on those conversations, we then offered the amendments, which should alleviate most concerns. We remain open and available for neighbors to discuss any further concerns or ideas.”
Another amendment made to the PUD included adding a golf course as an allowed, potential use for the property.
“Our partner, Johnny Stevens, and his family has a special relationship with the game of golf, including experience developing and maintaining golf courses. While it may be unlikely, this is an option they wanted to preserve,” Clark said.
Article by Josh Witt from the Wichita Business Journal.