Sale clears way for building revamp plan. A triumph for Wiley.

George Nerhan, who purchased the Wiley Building for $40,000 18 years ago, at long last sold the building to Wiley Plaza Development for $950,000 on Monday morning, clearing the way for a planned redevelopment of the vacant, nearly 100-year-old Hutchinson landmark.

Jack and Jay Manske, the principals in Wiley Plaza Development, hope to begin demolition of interior walls in December in preparation for converting the former department store and office building into 64 apartments on the top seven floors, retail space on the first floor, a community room for residents or additional commercial space on the mezzanine, and offices on the second floor.

The day's events began shortly after 9 a.m. when the Manskes came to Reno County Abstract & Title to sign closing documents. After the Manskes left, Nerhan arrived at 10 a.m. He signed the new warranty deed, the last of several documents, at 10:30 a.m.

Nerhan then waited to confirm the transfer of money into his account. Todd Brown of the title company then immediately took the deed to the Reno County Courthouse to register it and notified the Manskes that the transaction was complete.

Word spread quickly. Downtown Development Director Jim Seitnater, told at City Hall that the deal had gone through, beamed, saying, "Hallelujah! I have to tell my board."

Randy Mathews, executive director of the adjacent Historic Fox Theatre, which will regain access to two of its upper floors that have been closed off for years because the only access is through the Wiley Building, emailed the news to the theater's board of directors and excitedly showed off their replies on his smartphone: "Wah-hoo!" wrote one. "Bravo!" said another.

"I'm very pleased with what's transpired today," said City Manager John Deardoff, who was a key figure in rescuing the deal when it appeared to have collapsed last week. "The parties finally came together and made a deal and now we can move forward on a project we've been working on for years. (There's a) sense of relief after all the work that has been put into this by the Council and the number of people who've worked on the project. To see it almost fall apart and now come together is pretty exciting."

Nerhan, who drove to Hutchinson from his home in Arizona, also seemed to be pleased.

"The building really belonged to the city, the people of the city. I was just taking care of it," Nerhan said, also repeating an earlier comment that he loves the city and didn't want to do anything that would hurt the Wiley Building or the city.

Nerhan said that he purchased the building in 1995 at the behest of an official from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., who told Nerhan that he had to sell the building before midnight or allow the wrecking ball to take it. Nerhan said he originally agreed to buy the building sight unseen for $20,000, but ended up paying double that amount when the banking official's boss said the $20,000 price was too low. Nerhan also said he spent more than $300,000 to remove asbestos insulation, though he was reimbursed for that expense by the FDIC.

Contemporary accounts said Nerhan purchased the building from the Resolution Trust Corp., which acquired it after First Federal Savings and Loan folded in 1989. However, Nerhan insisted on Monday that he bought the building from the FDIC.

"The more I look at it, if I didn't buy the building then, we wouldn't be talking about it today," Nerhan said of the rumored plan to demolish it if it wasn't sold quickly in 1995.

Within minutes of completing their end of the transaction Monday, the Manskes were back in the building for the first time in a month, discussing with Mathews a revised plan for a corridor to connect the Wiley Building with a new parking garage and provide the Fox with access to the theater's previously inaccessible upper floors.

"I'm relieved on one level," Manske, who lives in Wichita, said, "but we've got a lot of work to do now before the renovation work can begin. This project has a lot of moving parts. Getting ownership was just one part. Now there are a lot of moving parts to get done over the next four months."

Wes Darnell, of WDM Architects in Wichita, told Manske on Monday that about 60 percent of the architectural drawings needed for building permits have been completed. His firm has also finished 70 to 80 percent of the drawings they'll need for a submission to the National Park Service, which will review them from a historic preservation standpoint necessary for recovering a portion of the construction costs in the form of state and federal tax credits once the project is completed.

Manske said the project is probably closer to being 60 days behind schedule, rather than the month he cited in previous conversations, but he reiterated that they hope to make up lost time during the construction phase.

He said they might have some sort of ceremony for people who used to work in the building around the 100th anniversary of the building's completion in November. Then he plans to start interior demolition in December. According to the grant of tax credits by the Kansas Housing Resources Council, "construction" has to start by Dec. 31, but Manske said the interior demolition will count as construction.

The city of Hutchinson also will participate in the project by spending $1.9 million to $2.5 million to build a parking garage to be shared by tenants of the building and the general public.

In all, the project will cost $17.2 million, part of which will be financed by the sale of $7 million in federal tax credits over 10 years, in addition to the historic tax credits that could be awarded upon completion of the project. The Kansas Housing Resources Corp. awarded the first tax credits to Wiley Plaza Development in May, contingent upon purchase of the building.

Nerhan originally sold an option to purchase the building to the Manskes in January. Nerhan received $20,000 for the option, which stipulated an eventual purchase price of $950,000.

After the tax credits were awarded in May, the Manskes decided to exercise the option and notified Nerhan orally and in writing. However, Nerhan said he never received the written notification, and he did not attend a scheduled July 25 closing on the sale of the property, later saying he had changed his mind and would not sell the building.

That led to Wiley Plaza Development filing a lawsuit, seeking to compel Nerhan to abide by the option contract. Last Tuesday, Wiley Plaza Development amended its lawsuit, saying that the project had fallen so far behind schedule because of Nerhan's refusal to sell the building that they could not meet deadlines required for the tax credits and that the project could not go forward. Instead the Manskes asked for return of the $20,000 they paid for the option to buy the building, plus expenses they had incurred for architectural and engineering work they had begun in anticipation of buying the building.

That touched off a flurry of telephone calls between Deardoff and Nerhan and Deardoff and Jack Manske.

During his conversations with Nerhan, Deardoff emphasized that he was concerned "that if the window closed on this opportunity, I didn't see any more in the future."

On Wednesday night, Nerhan called Deardoff and asked him to get in touch with the Manskes and see if they wanted to talk again. After Nerhan and Manske talked on Thursday, without the involvement of lawyers, Nerhan agreed to sell the building.

Nerhan wouldn't confirm the sale price. "Just tell them they got a steal," he said.

Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 12:00 am
By Ken Stephens The Hutchinson News

It's Key Construction, based in Wichita; building revamp is expected to last about a year. Owners of Wiley pick contractor for project.

Manske & Associates has selected Key Construction of Wichita to serve as general contractor for redeveloping the vacant Wiley Building in downtown Hutchinson into new commercial space and apartments.

"We are in the process of working out details of the construction agreement and look forward to working with Key Construction, which has considerable experience in historic renovation," Manske & Associates said in a written statement. However, it added, construction is expected to begin in January and finish in December 2014.

Three other companies also bid for the work: Wiens & Co. of Hutchinson, Conco Construction and Hutton Construction, both of Wichita.

The long-anticipated redevelopment of the historic building, once a department store and office building, will result in 11,000 square feet of commercial space and 73 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 675 to 1,100 square feet. Because the construction is being partly financed by the sale of $7 million in federal low-income-housing tax credits over 10 years, at least 40 percent of the apartments will be rented at less than the market rate to people earning no more than 50 to 60 percent of the area median income.

Manske's statement Tuesday said rents will range from $395 to $850 a month.

As part of the $17.2 million project, the city of Hutchinson will pay for construction of a parking garage that will be on a currently vacant lot just east of the Fox Theatre and be connected to the Wiley Building. The cost of the parking garage, which will have 102 parking spaces, 85 of which will be for the use of Wiley Building tenants, has been estimated at $1.9 million to $2.5 million. City Manager John Deardoff said Tuesday that he doesn't have an updated cost figure.

"I know they are still negotiating some aspects of the project with the contractor," he said.

Manske & Associates said it plans to work closely with the city and the Fox Theatre in scheduling construction of the garage, which is expected to take seven months.

The building opened nearly 100 years ago, on Nov. 20, 1913, as home to the Rorabaugh-Wiley Department Store on the first four floors and the offices of doctors, dentists, lawyers, grain dealers and others on the upper floors. For decades it was a center of commerce. However, after Wiley's Department Store went out of business in 1985, the building began a rapid descent.

In addition to most of the department store space, at least 22 offices were vacant when George Nerhan, an Arizona businessman, purchased the building from the Resolution Trust Corp. for a mere $40,000 in 1995.

Seven years later, all but a couple of ground-floor tenants were forced to leave because the building lacked a sprinkler system for suppressing a fire. In March 2012, the last tenant, Fraese Drug, moved to new quarters elsewhere on Main Street.

Through the years, city officials pursued a number of redevelopment plans, but ultimately all of them foundered because the developers couldn't convince Nerhan to sell.

That changed last January when Jack and Jay Manske were able to purchase an option to buy the building, contingent upon obtaining the tax credits. After the Kansas Housing Resources Corp. awarded the tax credits in May, the Manskes notified Nerhan that they intended to exercise their option to buy the building for $900,000.

However, Nerhan changed his mind at the last minute. The Manskes sued Nerhan to try to force him to sell. After a month, they amended their lawsuit to say that because of the delay they could no longer pursue the project.

That touched off a flurry of conversations between City Manager John Deardoff, Nerhan and the Manskes, and Nerhan finally signed the sale documents on Aug. 26.

The Manskes had originally hoped to have a ceremonial groundbreaking on the 100th anniversary of the building's opening on Nov. 20. However, that has been called off because of the delay in acquiring title to the building. The Manskes hope to make up time lost on the design phase during the construction phase and still open the building on schedule in December 2014.

Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 12:00 am
By Ken Stephens The Hutchinson News

With credits, work on Wiley can unfold.

Thursday's announcement that Manske & Associates received $700,000 in federal tax credits each of the next 10 years gives the developer "the green light to get started on the real work" of renovating the vacant nine-story Wiley Building into a mix of new retail, office and residential space, Jack and Jay Manske said Friday.

The target date for beginning demolition of interior walls and then new construction will be in November, the 100th anniversary of the completion of the building, which originally held a department store and offices.

Jack Manske said that upon receiving official confirmation of the award of the low-income-housing tax credits from the Kansas Housing Resources Council, his company will begin work on getting title to the building from its current owner, George Nerhan. Manske & Associates obtained an option to buy the building from Nerhan earlier this year, contingent upon getting the tax credits.

"We have to have that (the title) before we can proceed to other parts of the development," Jack Manske said. "Once we have the title commitment, we can proceed with the architectural drawings and work on the financing aspect."

Manske & Associates will get a conventional construction loan to begin the work, and then sell the tax credits to replace part of the construction loan on the $17.2 million project, which includes a parking garage to be built by the city of Hutchinson on nearby city-owned land at an estimated cost of $1.9 million to $2.5 million.

The Manskes also hope to recoup part of their costs through state and federal historic renovation tax credits. The state credit could cover up to 25 percent of eligible costs and the federal credit up to 20 percent. However, they wouldn't get those credits to sell until the project was completed.

Jay Manske said the building has to be designated as being historically significant. The building is already listed as a key contributing structure in the Downtown Core North Historic District. Then the Kansas State Historical Society and the U.S. Department of Interior's National Park Service have to approve the plans and agree that the renovation will not damage the historic nature of the building. Once the Park Service has signed off on the project, the award of tax credits is essentially guaranteed, Jay Manske said, although when the project is complete the Manskes will have to submit the third part of their application with a list of audited construction costs.

Historic designation of the building also means the project will be eligible for a 10-year, 100 percent rebate of the increase in local property taxes resulting from the increased value of the renovated building.

In shooting for a construction start in November, Jay Manske said they will have to have construction drawings completed at least 60 days earlier so that various historic groups can review and approve them. Once construction begins, he said WDM Architects in Wichita estimates the project will take about 12 months.

"But I think things would have to go perfectly to be done in 12 months, so I'm guessing it will be January or February of 2015."

The building, constructed in 1913 by the Rorabaugh-Wiley Dry Goods Co., housed Wiley's until 1985, when the remnants of the department store moved to the Hutchinson Mall. Shortly after Nerhan purchased the building, a failure to meet current fire codes forced the few remaining tenants above the second floor out of the building. The last tenant, Fraese Drug Store, moved out in March.

Mayor Bob Bush said that finding someone to redevelop the building was one of the items on his personal bucket list, as well as that of other City Council members.

"When I ran for office in 2007 and got elected, one of the big issues was the Wiley Building," he said. "I remember people wanted something to happen. Through a lot of stops and starts and years of city staff working behind the scenes with different developers, including the Manskes, it's finally coming to fruition. There are projects people thought would never get done, and it was one of them, and now it's getting done. It's something the community can be proud of."

Bush said he expects the project to boost the downtown area's "can-do attitude," as seen previously in the restoration of the old facades of a number of commercial buildings after the city invested in streetscape improvements.

"It's an ongoing process of slowly and steadily bringing downtown along," he said.

Downtown Development Director Jim Seitnater agreed.

He said it will widen the demographic of people who choose to live downtown. In addition to affordable housing for income-qualified people, it also will provide market-rate apartments for everyone from young professionals to empty-nesters.

"It will help us build more density downtown," Seitnaer said, "and that will be better for everyone. It will help sustain the businesses we have and create the need for more. It's a real shot in the arm."

Seitnater that a byproduct of the parking garage will be creating access to two previously inaccessible floors of the Fox Theatre, which can be used for meeting space and receptions. Those floors have been accessible only from the Wiley Building, and that access was lost when the upper floors had to be closed because of fire-code issues.

Bush said that the cost of up to $2.5 million to build a parking garage, in which the city would get a number of spaces for public parking, was an easy decision when he considered that the city would probably end up paying as much to demolish the Wiley Building in another 10 or 15 years if nothing was done.

Jack Manske noted that the tax credit award for the Wiley Building was the largest of 16 awards by the Kansas Housing Resources Council on Thursday. The next largest was $574,699 for 10 years for the French Quarter II Mennonite housing project in Wichita.

"Obviously they are very interested in Hutchinson and the Wiley project," Jack Manske said. "I received a lot of calls and emails (from people in Hutchinson) yesterday. It's a major benchmark for us to be at this point. It was an extremely competitive program. To get this reservation is an accomplishment. The support of the city and City Manager John Deardoff, the Fox Theatre and the community all weighed heavily in the process. We still have a lot of work to do, but we have overcome the first hurdle."

Another application for tax-credit financing to renovate the old Landmark Hotel at Fifth and Main was denied by the KHRC. It was the second year in a row that KHRC turned down a proposal for the Landmark.

Manske & Associates has completed at least 78 tax-credit housing projects, including 10 in Hutchinson. The most recent was the Hutchinson Lofts at 720 N. Main St. Other Manske projects include Tierre Verde Apartments, Walnut Court Apartments, Coventry Court Townhomes and Crown Homes.

The Manskes' plan for the Wiley Building calls for retail space on the first floor, a community room for residents or additional commercial space on the mezzanine, offices on the third floor and 64 apartments on the top seven floors, which includes a penthouse not visible from the street.

The plan states that at least 40 percent of the one-, two- and three-bedroom units will be for people earning 50 to 60 percent of the area median income, with most at the 60 percent level. The other 24 of the units will be rented at market rates.

The preliminary design by Wes Darnell of WDM Architects shows apartments ranging in size from 675 square feet to nearly 1,200 square feet. More than half would be two-bedroom apartments. Proposed rental rates will range from $395 to $750 per month with, all affordable units under $500 per month.

Posted: Saturday, May 18, 2013 12:00 am
By Ken Stephens The Hutchinson News

Christmas Eve 2014 set for completion of new Wiley Plaza. Wiley's makeover starts with basement.

The makeover of the downtown Wiley Building got underway last week when a subcontractor of Key Construction began doing demolition work in the basement of the building, dumpsters were positioned outside and fencing was erected along First Avenue.

Jack Manske, head of Manske and Associates, the company that is redeveloping the long vacant building into new commercial space and apartments, said that the demolition will proceed up from the basement and take four to five months. A construction elevator will soon be erected outside on the north side of the building to facilitate the work.

"We're getting started on the demolition about 10 days early, which we really needed to do to make up lost time in acquiring the building," Manske said.

Construction of a 102-space parking garage to the east will begin in early April, Manske said, and the entire $17.2 million Wiley project, including a new parking garage, is now scheduled to be completed on Christmas Eve 2014.

Manske said he began talking a few days ago with others involved in the project about some sort of public gathering to commemorate the start of the project, probably sometime in February. However, he noted, the fencing, the fact that the building itself is now unheated and the fact that it is a construction zone will make it difficult.

"We're trying to think about what kind of event we could have," Manske said. "The time of the year makes our choices somewhat limited."

When the redevelopment project is completed, Wiley Plaza, as the redeveloped building will be called, will have 11,000 square feet of commercial space and 73 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 675 to 1,100 square feet. Because the construction is being partly financed by the sale of $7 million in federal low-income housing tax credits over 10 years, at least 40 percent of the apartments will be rented at less than the market rate to people earning no more than 50 to 60 percent of the area median income.

Manske said that he is still working on the numerous contracts necessary because of the sale of tax credits to finance project, but that none of those will affect the construction schedule.

The parking garage will cost about $2.8 million, of which the city of Hutchinson will contribute $2.5 million. It will be built east of the adjacent Historic Fox Theatre. The renovation also will open up two floors of the Fox that have been inaccessible because the entrances to those floors were from the upper floors of the Wiley Building, which have been vacant since the fire marshal ordered them closed because of the absence of a sprinkler system to suppress fires in 2002.

Posted: Sunday, December 22, 2013 12:00 am
By Ken Stephens The Hutchinson News

Firefighters take their hits on Wiley Building's interior.

In the parlance of architects and bureaucrats, what’s going on at the Wiley Building is called adaptive reuse, transforming an old building for use in ways other than its original purpose.

The Hutchinson Fire Department took that to extremes on Tuesday.

Several companies of firefighters went up to the eighth floor, where the demolition workers have scarcely begun to gut the interior of the 100-year-old building, and used sledgehammers, axes and other tools to break down locked doors and knock holes through walls.

“We’re practicing forcible entry and breaching walls,” Capt. Greg Henke said. “If doors are locked and no key holders are on hand, we have techniques to pop doors. And if we are inside and our escape route is blocked we need to breach walls to rescue ourselves. We have different techniques for different types of walls.”

The fire department arranged last week with Jack Manske, head of the group that is redeveloping the former department store and office building into 73 apartments and two floors of commercial space, and Key Construction to take advantage of the plans to gut the interior and get in some practice on a floor that hadn’t been demolished.

“It’s not often we find a building that people will let us use to practice and destroy,” Henke said.

Henke said they have proven techniques that they wanted to practice. But the building also gave them the opportunity to try out other techniques. Mostly, though, it seemed to involve big tools and a lot of muscle.

They got in practice on a number of types of walls. Going through Sheetrock seemed relatively easy. Brick and concrete blocks were harder.

“You swing like a sissy,” one firefighter was heard to kid another.

Even plaster laid over a wire mesh presented some problems. In all cases, they were trying to create holes big enough for a man to escape through.

Unlike on television when a swift kick sends a door flying open, the firefighters found some wooden doors with deadbolt locks surprisingly resistant to the knocking of a sledgehammer. All eventually yielded, however.

As the rubble they created piled up, firefighters roamed from room to room, looking for one more wall or one more door to break down. When none could be found, they trooped down an interior hallway, the fluorescent stripes on their coats seeming to dance in the dim sunlight filtering through a cloud of dust that hung in the air.

Posted: Thursday, April 17, 2014 8:00 pm
By Ken Stephens The Hutchinson News

City council OKs bonds for Wiley parking garage.

The Hutchinson City Council approved issuing nearly $6.7 million in general obligation bonds on Tuesday, including $2.575 million for the city’s portion of the cost of building a parking garage primarily for the use of future tenants of the Wiley Building.

The city’s commitment to the garage is $2.5 million and will take the form of a no-interest loan to be repaid after 36 years by Wiley Plaza Development. The extra $75,000 is to cover the costs of issuing the 20-year bonds, which is estimated to cost somewhere between $58,000 and $75,000.

The $18 million redevelopment of the long-vacant Wiley Building will create 73 apartments and two floors of commercial space. The renovation of the building is expected to be completed in late December 2014. The garage will be built on a vacant parking lot just east of the Historic Fox Theatre, which will stand between the parking garage and the Wiley Building.

The other $4.1 million in bonds approved by the council is for refinancing a loan from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for improvements to the sewage disposal plant and for other bonds at a lower interest rate. The refinancing is expected to save about $184,000 in interest costs.

Finance Director Frank Edwards said the bond sale would be conducted on March 31, with final approval of the sale by the City Council on April 1.

In other business Tuesday, the council:

– Approved a $273,313 contract with Alan’s Excavating Inc. of Augusta for improvements to Ring Levee C, just west of the city and north of Nickerson Boulevard.

Property owners within the levee petitioned the city to create a special improvement district to finance the improvements so that that levee could remain certified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and they could avoid having to purchase expensive flood insurance.

The property owners will pay for the improvements through a special assessment each year for 20 years. That was originally estimated at $130 per parcel per year, but that could change because the plan called for $702,910 in bonds in order to be able to cover contingencies and the costs of re-certification.

– Approved the Animal Shelter’s use of $92,000 from a $226,000 bequest by Eula Fry, a long-time Hutchinson resident who died last May at the age of 93.

Fry was described as a very private person. She also left significant gifts to several charities and the First United Methodist Church.

The Animal Shelter will use $17,000 of her bequest for visual barriers in the canine area to reduce stress and disease transmission; $27,000 for a storage shed for animal control supplies; $25,000 to establish the Hutchinson Animal Shelter Endowment Fund at the Hutchinson Community Fund; $20,000 for the Cause for Paws STOP Program for spaying and neutering dogs and cats; and $3,000 for an automatic external defibrillator.

The shelter also has specific ideas for using the remainder of her gift in the future, but for now that $134,000 balance will remain on deposit in a city reserve fund for the animal shelter.

Posted: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 8:00 pm
By Ken Stephens The Hutchinson News

Financiers tour Wiley Building, see progress firsthand.

Demolition of the interior of the eighth floor of the Wiley Building was on hold for three days because of strong winds that prevented the operation of the construction elevators used to bring the debris down to ground level.

Debris – plaster, sheetrock, wiring, lighting fixtures, wood, duct work and old radiators – is piled up so extensively that there’s not much for the demolition workers hired by Key Construction to do until they can remove it.

That setback aside, however, bankers and lenders had their monthly tour of the $18 million renovation project this week and learned that substantial progress has been made.

Work on the second through sixth floors is 48.3 percent complete, Jack Manske, one of the principals, told them.

Project Manager Scott Casebolt of Key Construction said the second floor will be finished in five to six weeks. One more higher floor will be finished every two to four weeks after that, he said.

Those floors, Manske said, “will appear ready to occupy, but we won’t have a certificate of occupancy yet.” So the finished apartments will be locked up until the rest of the project is finished, he said.

The Wiley Building, which opened as a department store and office building 100 years ago last November, is being renovated into 73 apartments on the upper seven floors and penthouse, with commercial space on the ground floor and mezzanine.

The project is being financed in part by tax credits. The Kansas Housing Resources Corp. allocated $7 million in low- to moderate-income housing tax credits for the project. WNC & Associates of Irvine, Calif., purchased those credits. Historic tax credits, which are being purchased by Historic Preservation Partners of Topeka, also play a role in the financing of the project.

In addition, a number of banks – First National Bank of Hutchinson, Central Bank and Trust and People’s Bank and Trust from Hutchinson, Lyons Federal Bank, ESB Financial and Lyon County State Bank from Emporia, and CoreFirst Bank and Trust of Topeka – have combined to make shorter-term construction loans.

Most of those lenders had representatives on the tour of the site on Tuesday.

New windows have been installed up to the seventh floor. On the second floor, new interior walls have been framed, most of the sheetrock has been hung, electrical lines and plumbing have been roughed in, and baths and showers installed.

On the third floor, the hallway that will connect to the new parking garage to be built just east of the Historic Fox Theatre has been framed and sheetrocked. Apartments have been framed and sheetrocking is underway. Framing and sheetrocking also are underway on the fourth floor. On the fifth floor, framing is underway.

On the sixth floor, demolition has been completed and there are two vast open spaces flanking a central corridor. Metal wall studs are piled up, ready for workers to start framing. The seventh floor is in much the same condition.

Demolition isn’t finished yet on the eighth floor but probably will be done within a couple of weeks once the wind slows down and workers can use the lift again. Most of the demolition has been completed in the penthouse.

The commercial space on the ground floor, Manske said, is about 37 percent completed. However, essentially what they’re going to provide is an empty shell for a future tenant to finish out as they desire.

Work on the parking garage began with relocation of air-conditioning units from ground level to the roof of the Fox Theatre, now nearly completed, along with demolition of the old parking lot. The demolition led to the biggest surprise so far, the discovery of an AT&T equipment bunker, Manske said.

Rather than ask AT&T to relocate the equipment in the bunker, which would have delayed construction, WDM Architects made some design changes in the garage, Manske said.

Manske isn’t sure when the bunker was placed on the property, but he said, “It’s just one of the things you run into on a building site that’s been occupied for a hundred years.”

Key Construction started drilling the first of 97 pilings on which the garage will rest this week. There will be 97 of the 14-inch-diameter, 65-foot-deep concrete pilings, and, weather permitting, Key Construction will drill about 10 a day.

Around the second week of June, said Casebolt, workers will start assembling the pre-cast concrete components of the garage. “It will look like a large Erector set,” he said.

Manske said it appears that the project is still on schedule to be completed by Christmas Eve.

His son, Jay, said that within a month those interested will be able to go to a website that will have floor plans.

You’ll be able to click and zoom in on a floor to get details about each apartment and how much they’ll rent for.

In the meantime, those interested should call (620) 662-4400.

Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014 8:00 pm
By Ken Stephens The Hutchinson News

Wiley Building renovation progressing; preparation of site for parking garage begins.

If you haven’t driven downtown on Walnut this past week, you may have missed workers ripping up the old parking lot east of the Historic Fox Theatre, where Key Construction will soon start work on the new Wiley Plaza parking garage.

Because most of the work on the Wiley Project has been going on inside, there hasn’t been much for the casual passerby to see, other than the installation of replacement windows, which are now up to the fifth floor.

But the parking garage will be a tangible and visible measure of progress toward the late December target date of completing the renovation of the 100-year-old building into 73 apartments and two floors of commercial space.

Inside, away from the public eye, the demolition of interior walls on the upper floors is continuing, and new construction is rapidly following the demolition workers up through the building.

On the second floor, where a month ago new apartment walls were being framed with metal wall studs, most of the sheet rock has been hung. Workers are mudding and sanding the joints. A few apartments have had fiberglass bathtubs fitted into place.

Sheet-rocking is starting on the third floor, and framing has begun on the fourth. New windows are being placed on the fifth floor.

On the sixth floor, the only interior walls remaining are the walls flanking the central corridor, which will be retained. On each side of the corridor is a vast open space, awaiting the arrival of the framers in a few more days.

“We’re just now getting to where you can get a sense of the size of the space. This was all carved into offices. You had no sense of the space available,” said Jack Manske of Manske and Associates, the company that put the project together using a combination of conventional financing, low- to moderate-income housing tax credits and historic tax credits.

In one corner of the sixth floor is a huge pile of old sheet metal duct work. The seventh floor has mounds of old wiring, pipes, lighting fixtures and large sheets of glass from interior partitions – much of it destined for sale to scrap metal dealers or architectural salvage.

“The goal from the beginning was to minimize the amount going to the landfill,” Manske said. “So this is going to be used by somebody. It would be fascinating to know how many miles of wiring they are taking out of this place.”

On the seventh floor, the interior walls haven’t really been attacked yet. The story is the same on the eighth floor, though there are piles of rubble in various rooms.

One floor up in the penthouse, which was built atop the roof more than 30 years after the original eight floors were constructed, workers were swinging sledgehammers to knock out brick and concrete interior walls. A brick and concrete roof structure that once held a large exhaust fan, used to cool the building before air conditioning came along, is being demolished and taken to ground level a few wheel barrows at a time on a construction elevator.

When it’s all done, there will be four apartments on the penthouse level.

“We’ve had quite a bit of interest in the penthouse apartments, more than we have availability, really,” Manske said.

Posted: Saturday, April 12, 2014 4:56 pm
By Ken Stephens The Hutchinson News

Workers swarming over Wiley Building on target for December completion.

Three months into the $18 million project, construction workers have gutted more than half the 100-year-old Wiley Building’s interior and starting framing new interior walls on two floors.

Don Pinkley, superintendent for Key Construction, said the project to create 73 apartments and two floors of commercial space is right on schedule.

“We’ll be done in December,” he said Tuesday during a tour of the building.

The demolition crew started in the basement the week before Christmas. Since then, they’ve cleaned out the first floor, mezzanine and second through fourth floors.

Framing with steel wall studs has been completed on the second floor and is well under way on the third floor.

On the fourth floor, workers are sweeping up debris and within a week they’ll be chalking lines on the floor and starting on the framing, Pinkley said.

The fifth floor is a beehive of activity as workers rip out everything up to the plaster on the walls. It looks like a scene where a bomb has gone off, leaving everything hanging from the ceiling.

Pinkley said anything with metal in it is being ripped out – duct work, electrical conduit, plumbing, radiators and the boiler in the basement.

“Everything metal in here is getting recycled,” Pinkley said. “It all goes to Midwest (Iron and Metal). All the wiring, all the copper, the tin.”

So far, he said, they’ve hauled away about 100 30-cubic-yard dumpsters of debris. The demolition contractor estimates that they’ll haul away about 150 more dumpsters before the demolition is completed in another month and a half or so, Pinkley said.

An old freight elevator that served the department store on the first four floors has been removed. Workers will cut holes in the floors up to the eighth floor and build a new stairway rising out of the old elevator shaft. Another stairway that serviced only the first four floors of the building will be removed and floors installed to create more living space for the apartments.

Another stairwell that serves all eight floors, plus the penthouse, and two elevators will remain off the office lobby on the west side of the building. Just inside of the old office entrance, an existing “trophy case” of sorts will hold mail boxes for the building’s new residents. A U.S. Mail box dating from the building’s initial construction, which used to have a chute connecting it to every floor in the building, will be used as a box for tenants to drop off their rent payments.

On the second floor, workers have started putting in new duct work and PVC pipe. Also visible is the orange piping of a new sprinkler system for suppressing a fire.

It was the lack of a sprinkler system that prompted the city to order the last of office tenants on the upper floors to vacate the building in 2002. After that, only ground floor retail tenants, including Fraese Drug were allowed, and Fraese moved out in March 2012, leaving the building completely vacant.

The old windows – 340 of them - will be replaced with new metal clad windows, which started arriving this week The construction crew is also cutting holes for 43 new windows in the north side of the building.

In taking the interior down to the shell, Pinkley said they’re not encountering a lot of original material. He said it appears that the building was remodeled at least twice, and much of the interior work seems to date from the 1960s and 1970s.

On the fourth floor, under about three layers of other material, they found a painted wall mural – a garden as viewed through some louvered windows and doors - where the tea room of Wiley’s Department Store was at one time.

From the fifth floor up, the hallways were made of mosaic tile, which has been covered with particle board to protect it during the renovation. But other than the tile, everything from the hallway to the outer walls is being ripped out.

On the eighth floor, they’ve safely removed the old chalkboard that listed grain prices from the office of the Hutchinson Board of Trade and put it in storage.

Jay Manske, one of the principals in Wiley Plaza LLC, which is the umbrella company for the redevelopment of the building, said they’re not sure what they’ll do with the big board.

“We’ll let the historic people chime in on that,” Jay Manske said.

One possibility is that it could decorate one wall of a community room planned for the second floor. Another possibility is to hang it in a corridor on the first floor, depending on how the commercial tenants want that floor finished out. Yet another possibility is to give it to the Reno County Museum, he said.

Posted: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 8:00 pm
By Ken Stephens The Hutchinson News

Wiley tour brings back memories for city officials, Landmarks Commission.

Hutchinson City Manager John Deardoff stepped off a rumbling construction elevator and onto the eighth floor of the Wiley Building Thursday afternoon and, despite the piles of debris all around, immediately recognized his surroundings.

“My dad’s office was just around the corner, Garvey Grain,” he said. “I used to set there and look out the window. … I remember hanging out with dad and going to the Board of Trade and seeing what was going on there. I didn’t just come to see dad. I came to see the dentist here too. There were a lot of things going on in this building that people don’t realize.”

Deardoff was among a group of city officials – including City Council Members Jon Daveline and Jade Piros de Carvalho and members of the Landmarks Commission – who were guided on a tour of the progress of gutting the interior of the 100-year-old building and renovating it into 73 apartments and 11,500 square feet of commercial space to be spread over the two lowest floors.

Demolition of the interior began the week before Christmas, and the project is scheduled to be completed by late December 2014.

“It makes me feel good to really see it first hand and know it’s happening,” said Deardoff, who stepped in and helped persuade George Nerhan to sell the vacant building to the developers, Jack and Jay Manske of Wichita, when it appeared their deal had collapsed last summer. “Of course, I knew it was happening, but I’m very impressed with what we’re seeing.”

What Deardoff and others saw on Thursday were the upper floors in various stages of demolition and the future taking shape on lower floors, where the outline of new apartments can be seen in new wall studs have been put in place. On the second floor, electrical wiring and plumbing have been routed through the new wall studs, workers are starting to hang sheetrock and bales of insulation and fiberglass bathtubs and showers have been delivered in preparation for their installation.

New windows, each 8 feet by 6 feet and weighing 500 pounds, have been installed on the second and third floors. Jay Manske said that some people have noted that the new windows don’t look like the old windows. However, he said, the windows that are being replaced are not the original windows. They were actually replacement windows installed sometime in the 1960s. The new windows, he said, look more like the original 1913 windows.

Visitors were amazed at the size of the windows and how bright they will make the new apartments.

“It’s going to be great,” said Warren Hixson, a member of the Landmarks Commission. “It makes me want to sell my house and move on the top floor.”

Besides visions of the future, the tour also brought back memories for some.

Linda Schmitt, executive director of the Reno County Historical Society and another member of the Landmarks Commission, recalled the marble hallway just inside the office entrance on the west side of the building on her way to the dentist. She recalled the lobby mail box, which is being preserved, and the mail chute that rose from it to all eight floors.

At one point, she paused on the fourth floor to have a co-worker take a picture of her in front of a garden scene on a wall that was once part of the popular tea room of the old Wiley Department Store.

“There are so many things, but the tea room definitely brought back memories of my mother and sister and I having lunch there,” she said.

Don Pinkley, superintendent for Key Construction, said it takes about 10 days to gut each floor. So far, they’ve carted away about 150 30-cubic-yeard dumpsters of debris, about 50 more than they had just over two weeks ago.

The demolition subcontractor salvaged some of the woodwork in the building, including about 15 percent of the doors, which were taken to Oklahoma City where they may bring as much as $1,500 to $2,000, according to Jack Manske.

Jay Manske said the building had been remodeled at least a couple of times during its 50 or 60 years, and very little they are ripping out is original. One feature that is being preserved is the mosaic tile hallway floors on the fifth through eighth floors. Sheets of particle board have been laid down to protect the tile floors during the demolition and remodeling.

When it’s completed, there will be 23 one-bedroom apartments ranging from 675 to 856 square feet; 38 two-bedroom apartments ranging from 852 to 1,126 square feet, and 12 three-bedroom units ranging from 1,237 to 1,363 square feet.

Each apartment will have carpet and tile and energy-efficient appliances and lighting, including refrigerator, dishwasher, stove with self-cleaning oven, microwave oven, washing machine and dryer and connections for cable television, Internet and telephone. Each floor will be served by elevators, and tenants will have access to an attached parking garage to be built just east of the adjacent Historic Fox Theatre.

Tenants also will have free access to a community room on the second floor for events like family gatherings.

Some of the apartments will be rented at market rate, but others will have reduced rent for low- or moderate-income qualified individuals or families. Those interested in learning more about Wiley Plaza should call (620) 662-4400.

Posted: Saturday, March 29, 2014 8:00 pm
By Ken Stephens The Hutchinson News

Renovation of Wiley Building revives talk of man who rode horse on roof in 1941.

It’s one of the oddest and most iconic photos of Hutchinson: A man, cowboy hat held high, sitting astride a horse atop the eight-story Wiley Building.

First Avenue stretched out to the west in the background, revealing not an empty parking place in sight during the Prairie Powwow, a three-day festival that brought an estimated 120,000 people to Hutchinson in April 1941.

Lots of people recall the photo. Others who have discovered it only recently marvel at it.

Jay Manske, one of the principals in the company that is redeveloping the long-vacant Wiley Building, has a copy of it on his mobile phone.

His father, Jack, while showing members of the Landmarks Commission and other city officials through the building on Thursday, paused in what was once a grain laboratory on top of the building and said, “This is my favorite room because the picture of the guy on the horse was taken right outside this window. It was quite a publicity stunt.”

But neither Manske knew who the man on the horse was. Few others did, either.

And after some digging, the mystery has been solved. The man on the horse was Rudy Krehbiel, an auctioneer and cattleman from McPherson.

A story in the April 27, 1941, Hutchinson News-Herald described Krehbiel riding his horse “nonchalantly” around the edge of the roof on a windy afternoon “while thousands gasped and the horse looked worried.”

Krehbiel died in 1958. But the News-Herald mentioned that his wife and children had accompanied him to the roof of the Wiley Building, and the newspaper listed their names. His wife, Emma, died in 1987, and his son, Marvin, died in 2013. But we were able to track down Marvin’s daughter, Susan Taylor of McPherson, and Rudy’s daughter Valera Rumsey of Fort Myers, Fla.

Taylor recalled visiting Strataca, the Underground Salt Museum, and seeing the well-known picture on the cover of a book being sold in the gift shop not so long ago.

“That’s my grandpa,” she told her companions.

“I don’t know why he did it,” said Taylor, who learned the story from her father. “But I think he was a little bit of a showman. They took the elevator up as far as they could, and then he led the horse the rest of the way (up stairs one more floor). It was an easy horse to handle.”

Valera, now 84, said she was about 12 years old at the time and the horse’s name was Spot.

“I think my mother was pretty nervous about it, but daddy wasn’t,” Rumsey recalled.

“I don’t remember that we were scared. It was scary bringing Spot back down. He didn’t want to get back into the elevator.”

The newspaper story at the time said that Spot was lured along with lumps of sugar while others pushed him from behind. Spot, a little skittish on the stairs back down to the eighth floor, at some point leaned to one side and broke a banister rail.

But 45 minutes after the publicity stunt began, Rudy Krehbiel and Spot were back down on solid ground and took their place in a parade on Main Street.

Posted: Saturday, March 29, 2014 8:00 pm
By Ken Stephens The Hutchinson News

Movement is a dose of positivity.

Hutchinson City Council members reacted enthusiastically Friday to news that Manske and Associates of Wichita is working on a $16.9 million plan to redevelop the vacant Wiley Building into about 64 apartments plus retail and office space.

"For me this is something that we've been working for since I've been on the Council from way back," Mayor Dave Razo said. "It's exciting to me. We need to do something with that building. This is quite an accomplishment. Being at the level we are now is real thrilling. I really feel something is going to happen with this. It's going to be something we can be real proud of."

The City Council will have a special meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday to consider a resolution of support for Manske's application for state and federal tax credits, which would in turn be sold over a 10-year period and the proceeds used to finance the project. The Council also will consider a memorandum of understanding in which the city will commit to build a parking garage at a cost estimated at $1.9 million to $2.5 million at First Avenue and Walnut Street. The garage would have about 116 parking places for the use of the Wiley Building's tenants as well as public use by, among others, customers of the Historic Fox Theatre.

"This is an opportunity to take something that is a historic treasure in the center of our downtown area and bring it back to life and to do it in such a way that the cost to the community is relatively minimal but the potential outcome is huge," Council Member Bob Bush said.

"We're at that point where the tax credits are either going to go away or be greatly reduced in the next one, two or three years. And without the tax credits, there is no project. ... It seems to me, do we wait 10, 15, 20 years to condemn the building and spend $2 million to tear it down and have a small parking lot or do we spend $2 million now, get the tax credits and have a $12 million asset in the middle of our downtown? As far as I'm concerned, this isn't Business 101 this is Common Sense 101."

Bush and councilman Ron Sellers praised the track record of Manske and Associates, which has built at least 78 housing projects in Kansas and Nebraska using federal housing tax credits since 1988. That includes the Hutchinson Lofts at 720 N. Main, completed in 2011, and nine other projects in Hutchinson.

"The reputation that Manske brings to this project is very important to me because they are a group that gets done what they say they're going to do and they do it in a very high quality, on-time, on-budget manner from my experience," Bush said. "This is well within their wheelhouse."

Sellers' company, Luminous Neon, was among the investors that purchased the tax credits to finance the renovation of the old Grace Hospital into the Hutchinson Lofts.

"He's the first person who has been able to get an option on the (Wiley) building in all the years the building has been vacant," Sellers said. "So I think it's a significant step in having that option and I wish Jack and his group luck in putting this thing together. It would be devastating to the downtown if at some point in time we can't upgrade the Wiley Building, and that point in time when it needs to be done is coming very soon."

While noting that whether the Wiley renovation occurs depends on securing housing tax credits from the Kansas Housing Resources Corp., Sellers said the project "would create excitement and certainly complement everything we've done to date downtown."

"But I think it's more than just a downtown deal," Sellers said. "I think the community at large has wanted this project to get off the ground. It's not just going to benefit downtown. It's going to benefit the city as a whole by restoring a major building that, if not restored, is going to go into continuing decay and at some point would have to be removed from the scene."

Councilman Dean Brigman agreed that the fact that Manske has a contract giving him an option to purchase the building from its current owner, George Nerhan, is a major step forward. He said that several developers have taken a look at the building in the past and then walked away because they couldn't reach an agreement with Nerhan.

"I hope and pray that it goes forward," Brigman said. "There's a lot up in the air. The Wiley Building is such an albatross there on Main Street and has been for years. We've kept our eye on that thing for I don't know how many years, 14, 15, something like that, just hoping something would develop and happen there. Maybe we're getting closer to that point. I'm ecstatic about it."

He said he thought the $2 million or so the city would pay to build the parking garage will be a good investment.

"I wouldn't want to go much more than that," Brigman said. "But I think the city has to have an investment in it. Of course, if we do that the city gets some use of the parking garage too. It won't be totally for the Wiley Building. Yeah, I think that's a good thing. It sounds like a lot of money, but how long have we sat with that thing just doing nothing? And it's deteriorating so bad with nobody in it."

Councilwoman Cindy Proett agreed that the parking garage would be a good investment by the city.

"You may remember in 2009 or so we did that study on the building and the cost," she said. "Frankly if it continues to deteriorate at some point it may become the city's expense to tear it down and it will cost a lot more than $2 million to take it down. So it would be better to spend $2 million in a positive way than $2 million to tear it down."

"We've wanted something positive to happen with the Wiley Building for a long time," she said. "It looks like we've got something really positive happening for that building. It's exciting and we're hopeful for the best with it."

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013 12:00 am
By Ken Stephens The Hutchinson News


Wiley Plaza's first new apartment: finished and furnished

Outside Wiley Plaza, the only clue are the mini-blinds in the windows of Apartment 205 in the southwest corner of the building.

But inside Apartment 205, is the first of 73 apartments in the 100-year-old building to be finished. Bathroom fixtures have been installed, cabinets hung, walls painted, carpeting and tile laid. And recently, the Sleep Shoppe and Furniture Gallery, a neighbor half a block away on Main Street, gave the model apartment the look of a home by comfortably furnishing it with a living room chair, couch, coffee table, small dining table with two chairs, breakfast bar with two chairs, bed, nightstand, dresser and some art for the walls. The only things missing are the appliances, which will arrive in a large shipment as the last of the apartments are nearing completion.

“We wanted to check the carpet color, the wall color and trim,” developer Jack Manske said of the model apartment. “This is the smallest unit in the building (675 square feet), but it would be perfect for a single person or an elderly couple that wants to downsize.”

Although about 100 people attending the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band benefit concert next door at the Historic Fox Theatre last week got to take a quick look at Apartment 205 last week, Manske said it won’t be open to the general public for the next few months because of ongoing construction throughout the building and insurance liability issues.

But he said he hopes to have an open house sometime after Thanksgiving.

“We’ll have to have the elevators in and certified before then,” Manske said. “That’s what’s holding up the date of the open house. We’ll need the elevators for the upper floors.”

In the meantime, his company has launched a website,, where people can go to explore floor plans. Visitors to the site can pick a floor and then click on a specific apartment to open up a detailed floor plan.

Wiley Plaza will have 23 one-bedroom apartments, with six floor plans ranging in size from 675 to 856 square feet; 38 two-bedroom apartments with 10 floor plans ranging in size from 853 to 1,126 square feet; and 12 three-bedroom apartments with seven floor plans ranging from 1,237 to 1,363 square feet.

The apartments are a mixture of affordable housing for low- to medium-income-qualified residents and market-rate apartments without income limits.

As of Wednesday morning, that waiting list has 173 names. Although there are only 73 apartments, Manske said he still encourages anyone who might be interested to get on the waiting list by calling (620) 662-4400 or emailing

“A lot of factors affect the ultimate decision to move in, so we don’t want anybody to be discouraged by the waiting list,” Manske said. “Our experience is that usually one out of three or one out of four eventually moves in, for a variety reasons. That’s why we never discourage anyone from adding their name to the waiting list because eventually we will get to them.”

The Wiley Building, which once housed department stores on the first four floors and professional offices on the top four floors and penthouse, is undergoing an $18 million makeover, including a connected parking garage just east of the Fox Theatre. In addition to the 73 apartments, Wiley Plaza will have 11,500 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor and mezzanine.

Manske said January 1 is the target date for occupancy for the apartments.

“We will have 150 to 200 people living here eventually,” Manske said. “That pales by comparison with the number of people who were working here at one time. It would have been a beehive of activity back in the day.”

Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 8:00 pm
By Ken Stephens The Hutchinson News


Wiley Apartments Get 1st Tenants

1st new tenants move into Wiley Plaza apartments

After a year of demolition and renovation, from basement to penthouse, Wiley Plaza is at long last a home.

The first three households began moving into apartments in the historic building on Tuesday. Another wave of move-ins will occur on Jan. 3, then Jan. 7.

“We have commitments for 30 apartments for January and we’re processing additional apartments,” said Jay Manske of Manske and Associates, the Wichita-based company that put together the $18 million project. “Our lease-up schedule was for 12 a month. So we’re definitely ahead of where we anticipated being in January. It shows there’s strong demand for housing.”

Among the first to move in on Tuesday was Corey Bryant, an assistant soccer coach at Hutchinson Community College who had been living in a friend’s basement since moving to Hutchinson in July.

“I accepted the job in July and I came here to meet with Sammy (Lane), the head soccer coach at HCC, and take a tour of the city,” Bryant said. “I was driving around and I saw this being built and I called the number and got on the list.”

Bryant got a call back to start the application process in October, then actually got into the building to take a look at different apartments earlier this month. He chose a two-bedroom floor plan on the sixth floor of the building.

“They are nice apartments, and for what you are getting they are reasonably priced,” he said. “It works out perfectly for me.”

His apartment is one of 73 in the 101-year-old Wiley Building, which once had its namesake department store on the first four floors and professional offices for everyone from doctors and dentists to lawyers, insurance agents, grain companies and others on the higher floors.

Wiley’s Department Store closed in 1985, and the building began a rapid decline. Upper-floor tenants had to leave because there was no sprinkler system in 2002, and the last ground-floor tenant, Fraese Drugs, moved out in March 2012.

The Manskes purchased the building in August 2013 and demolition of the interior began the week before Christmas 2013. Key Construction put the finishing touches on the renovation of the building two weeks ago.

Bryant was attracted to the building in part because it was an old building that was being gutted and completely rebuilt on the interior and in part because it was downtown and there’d be plenty of things to do nearby.

“The building was a historic building and it was new,” Bryant said. “It was big for me to have a new place to move in that no one had lived in. Cathy and Jack (Manske) have been great to me. It’s great to have a landlord and people who are going to take care of you.”

Others moving in Tuesday included a 19-year-old Hutchinson man moving into his first apartment and a woman who was moving to Hutchinson from Dodge City.

The Wiley Building also has about 11,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor and mezzanine.

Jay Manske said leases on the west half of the commercial space were sent to potential tenants for their review on the day after Christmas. He said he hoped to have that space leased and a build-out start within 30 days. The Manskes are still talking with other potential tenants for the east half of the commercial space.

Posted: Tuesday, December 30, 2014 7:30 pm
By Ken Stephens The Hutchinson News


Wiley Celebration

Dedication of renovated landmark worthy of scope of impact

It was no ordinary ribbon-cutting. The dedication of the restored downtown Hutchinson Wiley Building on Thursday evening was more of an extravaganza, and it was completely appropriate.

The long-awaited unveiling of the $17 million project, completed late last year, was worth the hype. It is once more a beautiful, functional building anchoring downtown.

And given the extraordinarily heavy lifting required to bring it to fruition, figuratively speaking, the dedication program inside the neighboring Historic Fox Theatre was perfect for spreading around the thank-yous and accolades.

That started with Jack and Jay Manske, the father-son principals of Manske and Associates developers of Wichita. After many had failed, Jack Manske managed to figure out how to pay top dollar to acquire the huge building and finance its renovation for residential and retail redevelopment. It was Manske’s 11th housing project in Hutchinson and his biggest ever.

The gratitude extended to Hutchinson City Manager John Deardoff, who played a pivotal role in the 11th hour to put buyer and seller together just as the deal was about to collapse.

And to other community leadership that worked for years to make something happen with the Wiley Building – City Council members present and past, downtown and chamber officials. And to state officials who blessed the project with the tax credits necessary to make it financially feasible.

After more than a decade of little use, Wiley Plaza is now home to 73 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and 11,500 square feet of retail space. The apartments are a mixture of affordable-housing and market-rate units. Less than three months since it was ready for move-ins, the building is more than half occupied.

The Wiley project represents a big development for Hutchinson on multiple levels. It is a big economic development project for the city. And it is an impact project for downtown, where it will bring hundreds of new residents, who in turn will support the retail and restaurant trade there.

It is a big housing project, housing being a key issue in Hutchinson. And it is a big historic preservation project for a downtown landmark building steeped in history and memories.

The restoration of the Wiley is a celebratory event for Hutchinson.

Posted: Friday, March 13, 2015 11:30 pm | Updated: 9:53 am, Mon Mar 23, 2015.
By John Montgomery The Hutchinson News


Wiley filling up after more than 3,000 tour

Interested in an apartment at the Wiley Building after the weekend tour?

Better hurry.

“I believe … 50 out of 73 apartments are leased,” owner Jay Manske, of Manske and Associates, said this week. “I don’t know how many are occupied, but the leases are signed.”

The market-rate apartments, Manske said, which account for 33 spaces, or about 45 percent of the apartments, “have a slight lead” over those classified as affordable, for low- to medium-income qualified residents in terms of being leased.

“We have some of each left,” Manske said. “The only ones I know for sure are gone are the three-bedroom, both market-rate and affordable. They went right away.”

There were a dozen of those. The building also includes 23 one-bedroom and 38 two-bedroom apartments with varying layouts.

The apartments went much quicker than anticipated, Manske said, and they’re now projecting leasing all the apartments by the first of May.

“It’s much faster than the leasing guidelines, when we did a feasibility study,” he said. “We were figuring eight to 10 apartments a month, on average. Three months in, we’ve not quite doubled that. We’re definitely ahead of schedule.”

Of the four penthouse apartments atop the building, Hutchinson Regional Medical Center has signed a year-long lease for a one-bedroom apartment.

Others have indicated interest in those apartments, Manske said, but none have signed a lease.

“We’ve had an apartment leased in town for when physicians come in, hospitalists who do hospital medicine in our facility,” said Amelia Boyd, vice president of business development and marketing at the hospital.

“We’ve always had an apartment in town,” Boyd said. “This was an opportunity for us to get a larger, new space and to support downtown redevelopment. It’s kind of a win-win.”

Boyd didn’t know where the previous lease was, but said they’ve let that lease expire.

“I just know they were smaller accommodations,” she said. “This gives us a chance to have a larger bedroom and a living room, and certainly a nicer view.”

She also said she didn’t know what the Wiley lease amount is, but Manske said the penthouse leases are between $800 and $900 a month.

They’ve also had interest expressed in the ground floor and mezzanine retail space, but again have no signed contracts.

“We’re still talking with businesses on the retail space, but until leases are signed we won’t say who we’re talking to,” Manske said. “We’re talking to a mix of retail, office and restaurant.”

The company estimated at least 3,000 people toured the building over eight hours last Friday and Saturday, based on the number of fliers handed out and cookies consumed.

Visitors were able to walk through a furnished one-bedroom apartment on the third floor and a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor.

“We handed out 1,100 fliers on Friday, and served 800 cookies,” Manske said. “On Saturday we handed out over 2,000 fliers and 1,600 cookies. It’s hard to get an exact count, but if you count children, it was definitely over that.”

Another 400 attended a private tour and dedication on Thursday, marking completion of the $18 million makeover to the 101-year-old, eight-story downtown Hutchinson landmark.

Among unexpected visitors over the weekend, Manske said, was Anita Wiley, the wife of Jack Wiley, one of Vernon Wiley’s grandsons and a longtime member of the company’s board of directors.

“She couldn’t make the dedication on Thursday, but stopped on her way through to a basketball tournament, and we were able to show her the building,” he said. “She seemed very appreciative of what we’d done.”

Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2015 8:00 pm
By John Green The Hutchinson News