by Jim Grawe
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
9:39 PM CST, February 1, 2013
Wichita's old historic downtown train station has a new owner with a big vision.
"Everybody knows where Union Station is," developer Chad Stafford says. "Everybody likes the uniqueness of this project and the uniqueness of the location--centrally located in the urban core."
Developer Chad Stafford says his company, Occidental Management, will convert the four-building complex into offices, retail stores and restaurants. Stafford says the project will also preserve the historic integrity of the property which sits right between Old Town and Intrust Bank Arena.
"You just have the ability to revitalize an asset that is of classic quality to the city of Wichita, but do it in a way that also meets today's contemporary needs," Stafford adds.
Union Station opened almost exactly 100 years ago, back when trains were the primary way people traveled. It turns out trains could also play a role in the future of this development.
Amtrak abandoned Wichita in the late 1970s--that's when the place shut down and was converted into the cable TV offices. But with local officials working on Amtrak's return, those in the area including attorney Tom Docking who is also involved in downtown development, say passenger train service would be an extra bonus connected to all the new planned commercial space.
"That would be a perfect location for it," Docking says. "What a wonderful place to go and have fun, make a trip to Topeka or Lawrence or Kansas City and then back again."
Though train service is further down the tracks. In the meantime, transformation of the complex should begin in the next six to twelve months.
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