by Bryan Horwath
Wichita developer Jason Van Sickle says it’s about time downtown Wichita has a more modern urban feel.
Van Sickle, the president of his namesake real estate development company and of Wichita’s Old Town Association, made the comments this week while talking about the recent groundbreaking for a construction project that is slated to add 72 apartment units to the Flats 324 complex, 324 N. Emporia, that he co-owns.
“We think it’s time that downtown Wichita’s core had some amenities that you might see in bigger cities like Dallas or Kansas City,” Van Sickle said. “The number of people living downtown is going to double in the next few years.
“Revitalization of downtown – mixed-use residential, office and retail – is finally taking hold in Wichita.”
The addition to Flats 324, which currently features 68 units, will include an outdoor pool and pet-washing station and will be gated, Van Sickle said. Key Construction is the general contractor for the project, which will include a three-story add-on.
Flats 324, which is the former Wichita High School complex, opened in 2010. Van Sickle, who owns the complex with Dave Burk, said plans are to begin preleasing the new units this week and that the target date for move-in is June 1.
“One of the trends we’re seeing is that people really want to live downtown, and they’re really concerned about safety,” Van Sickle said. “The Flats 324 isn’t gated now, but it will be a fully-gated, secure community once the addition is complete. I really think that’s the direction downtown has to go.
“We’re still going to have, as we’re seeing this revitalization, areas where you’ll see big differences a block over. That’s the same in Kansas City or Oklahoma City or wherever.”
The Flats 324 project is expected to cost about $7 million, Van Sickle said. The addition will bring the total of Van Sickle and Burk’s investment to about $15 million for the property, Van Sickle said.