More than 150 invited guests — business leaders, elected officials, news media and city leaders — were on hand to celebrate the official launch of WaterWalk Hotel & Apartments in Wichita Jan. 22, where plans for brand growth were shared in a celebratory atmosphere.
Consolidated Holdings president David Redfern, in charge of national franchising, told guests that 35 new WaterWalk properties are now in some stage of development. Groundbreaking is expected within the next six months in Tulsa, Okla., Louisville, Ky., and San Antonio.
WaterWalk founder Jack DeBoer thanked partners and city leaders for their support. “We are really proud of the fact that there is a whole series of developers and contractors out there prepared to spend — just on what’s in the pipeline now — more than $600 million in development. And it started in your (Wichita) city. I can’t thank you enough.”
Wrapping up the short official program, WaterWalk president Jon Wohlfert prepared the crowd for the official “christening” of the first property, with am unquestionable non-traditional approach. Wohlfert held up a bottle filled not with champagne, but with Arkansas City water. He said that all future properties will be christened in the same way — with the water from the Arkansas — befitting the launch of the first WaterWalk Hotel & Apartments in Wichita, DeBoer’s fifth national brand.
All of WaterWalk’s unfurnished apartments in Wichita, the Silver Package, are leased. There is a waiting list for vacancies. Meanwhile, furnished, full-service corporate apartments — the hotel side of the business model — have proven immensely popular with myriad guests who want the space and community feel of an apartment, with the services and amenities of a hotel.
“The market for WaterWalk is huge,” said DeBoer. “The Highland Group projects the market … to be more than 450 properties in the U.S.”
National growth is expected to be primarily through franchises.