This article was originally published in the Wichita Eagle on June 11, 2015

Van Sickle, Burk plan a bigger Flats 324 expansion downtown

by Jerry Siebenmark

Downtown developers Dave Burk and Jason Van Sickle have revamped their expansion plans for the Flats 324 apartment building and will build a 72-unit addition and add amenities, including a swimming pool.

Van Sickle said Thursday construction on the $7 million project at 324 N. Emporia should begin within the next two months.

Spangenberg Phillips Tice is the architect and Key Construction is the general contractor.

He said conversion of Flats 324 into an upscale apartment community will include the addition of a swimming pool and a pet park. A fence also will be installed around the property for gated access to the buildings and parking.

The Flats was originally developed as a 68-unit apartment building in the former Wichita High School; it opened in January 2010.

Van Sickle and Burk last year said they planned an addition, but one that was 20 percent smaller than the new plan.

Van Sickle said his own market analysis and an updated report last fall by downtown housing consultant Laurie Volk of New Jersey-based Zimmerman/Volk Associates prompted a bigger expansion plan.

“Demand is so strong that we decided we needed to maximize what we were doing,” Van Sickle said.

In Volk’s July 2014 report, she said that downtown Wichita could support between 1,425 and 1,870 additional apartment units over the next five to seven years. That was up from 1,000 units in her initial report in 2010.

Burk said, for him, the barometer to expand was more about what he’s seen with his five other Old Town apartments— Innes Station, Mosley Street Apartments, the Lofts at Old Town Square, Player Piano Lofts and Rock Island Lofts.

“All of my properties downtown continue to be 100 percent occupied,” he said. “… Anytime you’re basically 100 percent occupied, you need additional units.”