Want to break ground on Braeburn Square? Here’s what it takes.


Brian Hayes

The new drive-thru Starbucks that is located near the Marcus Welcome Center, just off 21st street. (Jan. 29, 2017)

Wichita State’s Innovation Campus website, wsuinnovation.org, invites “corporate partners, restaurants, retail outlets, housing and entertainment venues with an interest in collaboration and providing applied learning experiences for Wichita State students.”

University President John Bardo envisions the future of Innovation Campus as being a blend of “innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.” The development of a national retailer blossoming on the scene, however, has some worried that the concept of entrepreneurship is being ignored.

Braeburn Square, the mixed-use development of restaurants, shops and lodging, started with an Element Hotel by Westin Hotel. Starbucks committed as the first retail location in the 20-acre square.

Lou Heldman, Wichita State vice president for strategic communication, said local retailers should not fear the development of the national retailer.

“Starbucks is the welcome mat. You haven’t seen the whole house yet,” Heldman said.

Heldman said only a fraction of the space has been developed. He said that space is welcome to local and Wichita-based retailers, adding that he “expects local retailers to be represented on campus.”

The Food Truck Plaza, located on Perimeter Road, invites local vendors to park five days a week, yet no Wichita-based retailer has received a permanent invitation.

“There’s an open invitation to bring your ideas to Innovation Campus,” Heldman said. He added that proposals should be proposed to John Tomblin, vice president for research and technology.

Heldman said he believes Wichita-based companies understand that there’s an open invitation to be a part of Braeburn Square.

Braeburn Square will be privately financed without the use of student or public fees.

Starbucks pays no percentage of its sales or a special fee to Wichita State to be located on university property, Heldman said. The university does receive a fee from the developer, Heldman said, but the agreement is between the occupant and the developer, not the occupant and the university.

The developer handles those contracts, in this case Rick Worner. Worner, who is recognized for the Village West retail development in Kansas City, Kansas, leads in recruiting tenants for the space.

Wichita State has approval on the tenants for Braeburn Square, Heldman said. He added that they consider a survey given to students in 2014 asking them for their preferences of retailers on campus. The results showed students expressed special preference in Chipotle and Freddy’s among other local and national retailers.

“There’s an open invitation,” Heldman said. “No one who has the capabilities is being kept away.”

The capabilities are substantial capital investment.

“Students don’t want to see Innovation Campus as a place where tenants are coming and going,” Heldman said. “They want to see somebody who is continually delivering high quality, and that usually means someone who is well bankrolled to begin with.”

Heldman said he envisions Braeburn Square taking on a life similar to Bradley Fair, located at 21st and Rock Road, which blends local, regional and national outlets.

Yet, until any Wichita-based retailer breaks ground on Innovation Campus, the perception may be seen more as a fantasy than a reality.

“One development does not make an entire campus,” Heldman said. “There are plenty of opportunities. The door is absolutely open.”