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Waterfront expects new retail space to lure marquee tenants

Monday, July 9 2012 12:00 AM

Waterfront expects new retail space to lure marquee tenants

 New retail section envisioned for west side of Webb Road

Wichita Business Journal by John Stearns, Reporter

A wave of office and retail activity appears ready to sweep across the upscale Waterfront development in northeast Wichita in coming months, filling prime undeveloped land on both sides of Webb Road north of 13th Street.

Two Class A office buildings — one 24,000 square feet and two stories, the other 5,500 square feet and one story — will get the ball rolling north of Chester’s Chophouse & Wine Bar , but a couple of marquee national retailers could make headlines for the parcel across Webb Road, abutting The Foliage housing development.

“We hope that one or two of those will announce within the next couple months,”Stephen Clark II says.

It’s a piece of what he says could be a summer of big announcements for northeast Wichita, not just The Waterfront.

“Hopefully it will be a good year for Wichita,” he says. “Good for us and good for some other areas. The northeast should see some fairly significant uptick in activity.”

Wichita is making believers out of national companies, he says.

“When retailers and restaurants come here, they’re surprised at how well they do, mostly,” Clark says.

The retailers eying the northwest corner of 13th and Webb would help anchor a new retail center, which could be as much as 78,000 square feet. The project would be built out over time, not all at once, says Clark, who manages projects at The Waterfront for its two principals — his father,Steve Clark, and Johnny Stevens.

The talks with retailers are in progress, and it’s too early to consider possible construction dates, but the younger Clark says he’s optimistic the pieces will fall in place.

“The best I can say is that’s a great corner. It’s one of the best corners in town,” he says.

Offices to start in 3-4 months

While timing of activity on that corner remains uncertain, work is progressing on development of the 4.3 acres of remaining land between Chester’s and Andover State Bank on the east side of Webb.

Clark Investment Group will occupy the smaller office, to be located behind the bank, moving from its longtime offices at 13th and Rock.

Clark hopes to break ground for that and the larger office in three to four months.

The larger office will be roughly in the middle of the parcel toward the lake. Plans eventually call for a 5,000-square-foot restaurant on the lake’s edge just north of Chester’s.

Clark says interest is high in office space in the larger building. He expects to have half the space committed by the time the work breaks ground.

The Waterfront doesn’t publish lease rates, which vary based on several factors, but Clark says they’ll reflect the building’s high-profile location within a prominent development.

The building could house eight businesses, but he expects three to four and says three parties, all existing businesses in Wichita, “are pretty far along” in talks for the space.

Spangenberg Phillips Tice Architecture is designing both buildings.

The projects on either side of Webb Road, once built out, will complete that portion of The Waterfront, Clark says, but the larger development is far from finished.

It has approximately 40,000 square feet to develop on the project’s east and northeast sides and has announcements anticipated there, too, Clark says. Those areas are mixed use: residential, offices and retail. The residential hasn’t been defined, but it’s likely to be higher density.

The Waterfront just signed Landmark Commercial Real Estate to market the development, including 7,600 square feet vacated by Brooks Brothers and two other spaces of 2,100 and 1,400 square feet. Landmark’s Craig Simon will work on marketing and leasing the offices, Don Piros on retail.

The caliber of retail tenants Waterfront is seeking on the west side of Webb will set the tone for the rest of the development, says Landmark’s Brad Saville.

“What they’re working on is, as you would expect, very high end,” Saville says. “It’s not going to be comparable to anything else in east Wichita.”

Pent-up demand — for value

Less than a mile to the north, Occidental Management Inc. is preparing to break ground on a Class A office project on the south side of 21st Street just east of Webb.

Occidental CEO Gary Oborny says his project is different from The Waterfront’s.

“I think we’re both fulfilling two different niches within the Class A structure,” Oborny says.

The first phase of Occidental’s 60,000-square-foot project will be about 22,000 square feet and take about a year to complete. Work should begin later this month.

Oborny sees some pent-up demand for the Class A space in the right location at the right price. He’s planning a rate of about $20 per square foot, including taxes, insurance and common-area maintenance.

“It’s got to be good value for what you’re building,” he says. “For that price range ... there is some good demand.” 

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