WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The “old eyesore,” as some have called it, is springing back to life this week with something new in Wichita.
ICT21, at the old Derby Refinery location of 21st Street North, is getting its first tenant on Wednesday with the announcement of JTM Foods. JTM announced that Wichita will be the new home of JJ’s Snack Pies. JTM Foods plans to hire 150 people within the next two years and invest $40 million in the Wichita facility.
“It’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” said Marty Cornejo.
Marty is with Cornejo Holdings, a group that is doing the roughly $100 million project. It’s been in the planning stages for more than seven years.
“There’s warehousing. There’s manufacturing coming in. There’s a plaza. A lot of interest now that it’s clean up up, the infrastructure’s in place,” said Cornejo.
The 150-acre site has not looked its best in recent years.
Oil was discovered near Wichita about 100 years ago. The Derby refinery was not far behind.
In 2008, one of the last remnants of the site was pulled to the ground from that refinery.
Moran Koon with ICT21 says the project in 2022 will give a new face to Wichita.
“A vision and a lot of hard work,” said Koon.
Koon says it’s a financial risk to do a big project to clean up an area and go after new business.
“Worth the risk and all the planning,” said Koon. “It is the entrance to the City of Wichita from the north end, so where we used to have an old refinery here and then a torn down refinery and a vacant lot, we have this.”
Koon says with the new tenant announcement, others are already showing interest in the area.
Cornejo says the state has helped with remediation of the soil at the site, and the City of Wichita has kicked in cash to make it happen.
“And it’s been vacant and blighted forever,” said Cornejo. “And we drove by it. And we office up by the area and me and my brother Ron said, you know, I think something could be done with that.”