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Kansas Corporation Commission signs lease at former Ryan building

Thursday, December 12 2013 12:00 AM

Kansas Corporation Commission signs lease at former Ryan building

By: Carrie Rengers

Published By: The Wichita Eagle

UPDATED — There’s another new lease at the former Ryan International Airlines building at 266 N. Main St., and it happens to be another state agency.

“We’re slowly filling it up with state leases,” says Craig Simon of Landmark Commercial Real Estate, who handled the lease.

“The most recent one that got signed and approved was the Kansas Corporation Commission,” Simon says.

The commission is taking 17,267 square feet on the second floor.

Currently, the commission is in the Finney State Office Building at 230 E. William.

In June, Have You Heard? reported that nine state agencies, including more than 700 employees, will leave the city-owned building when the state’s lease expires on Sept. 30, 2014.

The Kansas Department of Labor, which is temporarily in the Finney building, signed a lease for the former Ryan building in September.

The state Board of Indigents’ Defense Services, which has been at 150 N. Main, signed a lease in the former Ryan building in October.

“There’s one more,” Simon says of state agency leases, “and we’re waiting to get the lease signed.”

That likely will be in the next week or two, he says.

“And then the entire building will be full once that’s complete.”

Level 3 Communications and Hubris Communications are already at the building.

Tom Schmeidler of SBA Construction, his brothers and another investor purchased the former Ryan building out of foreclosure in July, and Simon has been filling it up since then.

“It’s been a great deal for the owners of that building,” Simon says of the state leases, “and it’s been fun to work on.”

For now, the building doesn’t have an official name. Simon isn’t sure if that will change.

“I think we’re going to put a state seal up there and have some signage for the various state agencies,” he says.

Chuck Knapp, spokesman for the state Department of Administration, says the KCC had criteria it needed in a new building that the former Ryan building met.

“The KCC specifically had needs for a building that could withstand an F5 tornado,” Knapp says.

He says the agency has a lot of records that have not yet been digitized, though they’re in that process.

Also, he says, the KCC needed a heavy lift loading dock, which the former Ryan building has.

Jason Gregory, executive vice president of the Wichita Downtown Development Corp., says he’s happy to see another state agency remaining downtown.

“Obviously, our preference would be that they all remain at the state office building,” he says.

“We think it’s important that the state agencies … be in the core where you kind of have a consolidation of services,” Gregory says. “We think that’s important.”

He says downtown is centrally located, which is great for state agencies.

“Their proximity to each other makes a lot of sense.”

Knapp says the Department of Administration and Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration want “to keep as many agencies downtown as possible.”

“That’s just one of the commitments that was made to the mayor when we were discussing leaving the Finney building,” he says. “We have told them we would try to keep those jobs downtown if possible.”

Knapp says the exception likely will be the Department for Children and Families, the largest of the state agencies at the Finney building, with more than 550 of the building’s 700 workers.

“DCF is the only agency that probably will not remain in the core of downtown,” he says.

Knapp says the state has narrowed possible new DCF homes to three buildings and should be making a decision on one soon.

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