WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita landmark was reborn in 2014 when a project to revitalize Union Station broke ground. Three years later, progress is still continuing on the project.
Union Station was dedicated in 1914, and it served passenger rail up until 1979. It served as the central offices of Cox Communications until 2007.
After that, the building sat vacant, until Occidental Management bought it in 2013.
Gary Oborny, the CEO and Chairman of Occidental Management, says phase one of the project has been completed.
“In phase one, we have about 35,000 feet completed and there is about 15 tenants,” said Oborny.
One of those tenants is Jason Huang. Huang is the owner of 8 Below, an ice cream shop and Noodles To Go. Both businesses are new kiosks opening up soon in Union Station. Huang says the central location of Union Station was a draw to open his businesses there.
“I just like downtown, like it is just in the middle of the city, so a lot of people can try these out, said Huang.
Oborny says they put in $56 million in redeveloping and expanding Union Station. He says a TIF District was established to where they paid for everything up front and that the property taxes would pay them back over time. Oborny spoke about the importance the project holds.
“Union Station is the connector between Old Town and also Intrust Arena,” said Oborny.
It will play an even bigger role when the NCAA Tournament comes to town in the spring of next year. Oborny says the hope is most of the project will be done by that time.
“Union Station can handle very large amounts of people as it currently stands, so we’ll have a lot, a big part of Union Station ready for the NCAA Tournament,” said Oborny.
Jason Gregory, the Executive Vice President of the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation, says Union Station and other projects along Douglas Avenue should make a good impression for visitors.
“I think that just gives people some real excitement about what it happening in and around that area and the greater Old Town area,” said Gregory.
The second and final phase of the Union Station project is set to kick off soon.
This will include remodeling the large Union Station terminal building and the Union Station terminal baggage building.
Oborny says they have a development window of about 12 to 18 months to complete this phase of the project.