Shock and heartbreak. That’s how a Mulvane woman describes she felt as she watched her business collapse.
The building located on the 200 block of W. Main Street in Mulvane partially collapsed around 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. Another portion of the front of the 120-year-old building crumbled around 5:30 p.m.
“Just as my friend was walking from one side of the car to the front of the car one of the windows cracked and everything else just came tumbling down,” said Megan Bryant.
Bryant is the owner of Set Free Dance Studios. She rents the building that collapsed.
“Just shock. I really didn’t think it would fall down as much as it did,” Bryant said. “Every time someone hugged me I just wanted to bawl.”
Bryant, 27, opened Mulvane’s first competitive dance studio about two years ago after graduating from Wichita State University with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts.
“Once I moved back home, I really wanted a space and a place that would have competitive, professional, really good technique, just like the studios in Wichita that are fabulous. I wanted to bring that down to the small towns and the surrounding towns,” she said.
Set Free Dance Studios is home to about 85 dancers. After Sunday’s building collapse, Bryant was forced to find other studio space to continue this week’s dance camp.
“The school district has been really great. They’ve offered up their gyms and so you know the community has been wonderful,” Bryant said. “It really means so much.”
However, the space is temporary.
“I just want to find a new home for all of us to get back to doing what we love because that’s what it’s all about,” Bryant said.
The City of Mulvane’s Land Bank owns the building in question. Officials said they will allow Bryant to temporarily use the Pix Center to conduct her dance classes.
Meanwhile, the city has hired a structural engineer to take a look at the building on Tuesday. Officials said they then plan to hire a contractor to get a quote to further secure or repair the front. They told KSN their goal is to preserve the building.
“Twenty years from now we’d like all of these buildings fixed up and occupied by retail. That’s a dream of any city no matter what size,” said Mulvane City Administrator Kent Hixson.
Hixson said several of the city’s downtown buildings are showing their age. He said the former owner didn’t do much upkeep and refused to sell, except to a single buyer for many years.
“The majority of the buildings in the downtown area were owned by one individual, an absentee landlord,” Hixson said. “He would lease them out, rent them out for minimal rent, but he didn’t do anything in terms of fixing them up and keeping them in good shape.”
The city said the lack of repairs to the buildings for several decades likely caused the collapse.
“The reason this frontage fell off, as Megan can attest, there was a leaky roof.and over time, we are talking decades that water got into the bricks and pushed it over,” Hixson said.