NE Wichita residents frustrated by apartment sitting half-built for years
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Nearly four years ago, residents in northeast Wichita strongly opposed plans for a 3-story apartment complex that butts up against luxury homes, but the city said there was nothing it could do.
Now, it's still unfinished, and it looks like no one has worked on it for years, and people want to know why.
"I would hope that the city and, that the developer, that they would hear how upset this has made the neighborhood," said Jessica Dibble.
Dibble lives near 21st and 127th in northeast Wichita, and anyone else in the area probably already knows what she's talking about.
"It's just so sad," she said.
Nearly four years ago, a contractor started building a three-story apartment complex in their backyards.
Chris Labrum, Director of the Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department, says the city knew how upset residents were from the start.
"There's a misconception with this project, which we see at times, in thinking that there was a level of permission that had to be granted for them to do this. But the zoning for that was already a commercially zoned parcel that allowed this," said Labrum.
But now, there's an even bigger problem.
Labrum says in the first year of construction, it made very quick progress. However, for the last three years, it's pretty much been at a standstill and still looks partially built.
"They've cited financial initially and a little bit since. They do say they've got the finances sorted out now. Followed by COVID and the availability of work crews, as well as materials and material availability. So it's run the gamut," said Labrum.
But he says there's a glimmer of hope for the people tired of staring at the big green building.
"Their building permit expires. It is set to expire at the end of this month. So if they don't meet a milestone, if they don't get a full inspection on a portion of the project, that will expire," said Labrum.
He says at this point, the builder will likely have to tear out some of the exposed materials damaged by years of weather in order to proceed with construction, but one way or another, he says the building will either get finished or eventually torn down.
"Our hope still is that this gets condemned and it will be torn down. That's what we all want to see," said Dibble.
Labrum says the city stepping in to tear it down is more of a complicated last-resort measure. He says that the builder, Calamar Construction, is known for similar issues in other areas but has been cooperative so far. He says he'll know a lot more about its future next month when that deadline hits.