Friends University to purchase, renovate buildings in Delano
Wichita Business Journal by Josh Heck, Reporter
The Friends University art department will move off campus next year following the $3.5 million purchase and planned renovation of the historic Farmers State Bank building in the Delano District.
Friends President T.J. Arant announced Thursday afternoon that the university is purchasing the building at 930 W. Douglas and a connected warehouse space at 122 N. Walnut. The money is coming from the university’s capital reserve funds. The buildings sit at the northeast corner of Walnut and Douglas, a block east of Seneca.
Combined, the buildings will give the Friends art department 23,500 square feet, a significant increase from the 13,278 square feet it has now. The new site also gives the department access to 30 parking stalls close by.
The purchase puts to rest a space dilemma that Friends has been looking to alleviate for the past five years.
“Finding a way to solve this problem became a real priority,” Arant said. “With the addition of these two buildings, we will significantly expand our art department just one mile from the main Friends University campus.
Howard + Helmer Architecture will be working on building plans that preserve much of the historic look and feel of the site, built in 1911.
The first floor of the building will be transformed into an art gallery, and studios will be created on the second.
“Our job as architects on this project is to take what is here and enhance it,” said Dave White, president of Howard + Helmer.
A second stairwell and an elevator will have to be added to ensure the building is up to code, White said.
Construction is expected to begin this fall and is expected to be completed before the start of the fall 2013 semester.
A general contractor has not yet been selected.
The deal was brokered by Dan Unruh, InSite Real Estate; Don Ablah, Classic Real Estate; and Ted Branson, Landmark Commercial Real Estate.
Those involved said the location will put the Friends art department in the heart of the Delano District and allow it to better participate in events such as Final Friday.
“Delano is just gaining an incredible synergy,” White said. “And Friends University coming in here is an incredible bump to that.”
Friends will vacate its existing on-campus space, but nothing has been decided yet as to how that space will be utilized.
Friends has about 150 art students per semester.