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The Next 21st and Rock

Friday, January 24 2014 12:00 AM
The next 21st and Rock

Development along Greenwich from 13th to K-96 could rival business activity on bustling Rock Road.

Written by John Stearns

Published in the Wichita Business Journal on January 24, 2014

Greenwich Road in northeast Wichita has been anything but sleepy the last decade — anchored early on by Warren Theatres at 13th Street on the south, SuperTarget at 21st Street on the north and the blockbuster addition of Cabela’s two years ago — but 2014 promises to accelerate development even more, moving it closer to what many have called the next Rock Road.

“We expect this to be one of the most active years for Laham Development along the Greenwich corridor,” says George Laham, president of the company around which much of the area’s development revolves.

In particular, he says the intersection of 13th and Greenwich, where his company owns property on all four corners, is the intersection to watch. There will be more activity there than at any intersection in Wichita, he predicts. Much of that energy will come from new luxury auto dealerships on the northwest corner, possibly up to three more than the five already announced. Two have already been built. The two to three new dealerships would be along 13th, west of Home Bank.

Laham calls the dealerships’ arrival another monumental point in Greenwich development this year, similar to the theaters, SuperTarget and Cabela’s before them and calls 13th and Greenwich “the next 21st and Rock Road of east Wichita.”

Expect announcements and some development of stores and restaurants on the southwest corner, too, south of Scholfield Buick-GMC, and at the southeast corner at the Plazzio Retail and Entertainment Center that includes Warren and The Alley. The northeast corner could get active, too, if Dillons decides to develop property it owns there. That could accelerate Laham’s plans to develop two parcels along Greenwich bordering Dillons’ property. Dillons declined to speculate on future development for the site.

To the north, Laham expects announcements and possible work to begin this year on at least one or two parcels of three remaining at Regency Lakes. They would also be retail and restaurant projects.

Outside of Laham, Academy Sports & Outdoors plans to build a second 72,000-square-foot store this year at the southeast corner of Greenwich and K-96. Construction could begin on additional buildings on the Village at Greenwich property at the northeast corner of 21st and Greenwich. Work to complete the K-96/Greenwich interchange will start by March, and work will begin northeast of that on streets and infrastructure for the Goodsports fieldhouse project, which is projected to attract more than 300,000 visitors a year, many from outside the state.

Also northeast of the interchange, the 438-unit Stoney Pointe apartment complex has launched.

Eyes also are on Slawson Cos.’ 60-acre Cross Pointe property at the southeast corner of 21st and Greenwich that stretches east to K-96.

Jerry Jones, vice president-commercial development at Slawson, is excited by the infill and momentum occurring around him.

“We’re continuing our efforts to try to secure an anchor for that site that would help us kick off our development,” Jones says, declining to say how close he might be. “We’re aiming high and our feeling is that the property becomes a better destination as more and more activity happens around it.”

Two years ago, even with SuperTarget there and Cabela’s on the way, “most retailers that came to town would say it’s still too green — I’ve heard that dozens of times,” he says. “Now we’re starting to get some momentum in that area; it’s good to see.”

Wait paying off

Jim Korroch, owner of A.G. Holdings LLC, which owns the SpringHill Suites by Marriott and part of the Residence Inn by Marriott at the Plazzio, says it was a “roll of the dice” when he bought land for the hotels, the first of which opened in 2005.

“The thing that really drew me to the area? It was being developed by George Laham,” Korroch says, remembering Laham telling him, “‘Jim, this may make take some time to develop, but we’re going to do it right.’”

The wait is paying off.

The luxury car dealers are huge for the intersection, attracting people from throughout the region, Korroch says.

“So anytime you have that kind of draw ... it just seems like the perfect recipe for retail to begin to develop in that area,” he says. “It just seems like it’s ready to pop.”

With Plazzio filling in and other activity around the intersection, Korroch is already seeing positive effects.

Kevin Mullen, president of Ritchie Development, which has partnered with Laham on projects in the area, also sees a corridor ready to take off, particularly after the interchange is completed.

Ritchie paid for half the current interchange in the 1990s, which changed the look of the city up there, he says, and helped set the stage for what would follow.

“I think Greenwich Road is going to be the hot development area in the near future,” he says, citing myriad projects already there to the ones yet to come.

Greg Tankersley, chief operating officer for KAJ Hospitality, which has the Staybridge Suites and new Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites at 21st and Greenwich, likes the hotels’ position.

“I really think after the end of this year, with ... Goodsports and everything going north of here, I think this area a year from now is going to look dramatically different,” he says. “It’s not going to look like it looks today or even three years ago.”

The interchange is going to be “huge” for the hotels, Cabela’s, everyone, Tankersley says.

Allen Bell, urban development director for the city, concurs.

“I think a lot of people are waiting to see the dirt move,” he says. “And so in that sense, once that visible, tangible symbol of progress takes place, then that’s going to get a lot of people to move on things that they’ve sort of been waiting on.”

Critical mass occurring

Steve Wheeler, manager of the partnership that owns the Village at Greenwich property at the northeast corner of 21st and Greenwich, says the area is starting to get critical mass, which should fuel steady development.

That very well may include construction this year on his property fronting Greenwich.

“We are working with some people on some projects,” Wheeler says, declining to elaborate other than to say they involve restaurant and office users.

He built a strip center on 21st, near Greenwich, last year that so far has PostNet operating and a Supercuts coming.

Owners of the PostNet store left a strip center just to the north after about five years there to allow a tenant to expand, says Liz Anderson, who owns the store with her husband, Jim.

“(Jim), back in 2008, said this is going to be the new Rock Road,” Liz says. Jim recognized the area’s potential, despite the parent company suggesting other locations.

The former location and now the current one proved winners, she says, and the future looks bright.

Steve Hatchett — a partner in the Wichita Luxury Collection, which recently opened the new Mercedes dealership north of 13th and Greenwich, is preparing to open Lexus next door in February and will build new Porsche-Jaguar and Acura dealerships next door to those — likes the new location for the easy access off K-96 and the area’s demographics. The dealerships are relocating due to the pending Kellogg freeway expansion, which will be good for the city, but too disruptive for business there, he says.

Hatchett hopes to land two new-to-the-market luxury brands to the corner, which could happen this year.

“It would be a dream come true if they did,” he says, acknowledging it’s in the car companies’ control. “They certainly are aware of us.”

As are others.

“The next retail corridor is Greenwich Road,” Laham says.
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