This article was originally published by the Wichita Business Journal on October 11, 2016

Downtown apartment complex to be expanded again


The Flats 324 apartment complex is ready for another expansion.

Developer Jason Van Sickle tells me the operating entity for the campus, located at 324 N. Emporia, has under contract two adjacent properties to facilitate the construction of another 60 apartment units and the addition of a second clubhouse.

One is a property at 421 E. Third Street that houses the Morrow & Co. accounting firm. That building, Van Sickle says, will be re-purposed and converted into a clubhouse. The other is a parking lot owned by First United Methodist Church. A parking lot already owned by Flats 324 also will be part of the construction footprint.

Van Sickle expects to close on the property acquisitions before the end of the year.

“In order to do a phase three, we really needed to buy those pieces of land,” Van Sickle says.

The next phase of expansion will be about $5.5 million. Key Construction Inc. will be the general contractor. Spangenberg Phillips Tice Architecture is the project architect.

Van Sickle says construction is expected to start in January and take eight or nine months to complete.

With the expansion, Flats 324 will have 200 apartment units.

“It’s really driven by the success of the first two phases,” Van Sickle says.

The second phase of the Flats 324 — a 72-unit addition costing about $7 million — opened in June.

Van Sickle says that phase is nearly 80 percent occupied.

The building is an expansion to the apartment complex Van Sickle and developer Dave Burk created with the conversion of the former Wichita High School. The first phase of the project — 68 units — reached 90 percent capacity within months of opening.

The newest building features an outdoor patio lounge and a coffee shop cafe. Flats 324 also now is a fully gated community, a selling point for the development.

Van Sickle says additional amenities will be added with the third phase as well, such as rooms in the clubhouse for music practice and video game play. A theater room also is a possibility along with private dining rooms.

Van Sickle says the he wants to offer with his apartment developments amenities to give people opportunities to do things they can in a house but can't living in an apartment.

"One of the most important things with apartments is amenities," Van Sickle says.