A Decade in the Making: ICT21 Transforms Wichita's Gateway
By Emily Younger
A longstanding vision to revitalize a blight-ridden entrance into the City of Wichita is now a reality, a reality brothers Marty and Ron Cornejo have been piecing together for nearly a decade.
“If people knew what we went through to get it to this point they would be amazed,” said Marty Cornejo.
Marty, who is a long-time businessman and Wichita native, is referring to the 130-acre, multi-million dollar development called ICT21 Industrial District located on 21st Street just west of I-135. The development, envisioned in 2013, now supports the largest Class A industrial campus in the city, a significant change from what many used to refer to as an eyesore.
“Everybody ignored this property. Developers, real estate groups, they ignored it,” Marty explained.
The Derby Oil Co. refinery operated on the site from the 1920s to the 1990s before it was demolished in 2007. The area sat vacant and desolate for years, being overcome with weeds, trees and trash.
“This property was a forest. There were so many trees it took us months to clear them. Then, we would run into more underground surprises,” explained Marty.
Many of those surprises revolved around ground contamination.
“What happened over the years is there were just big holes and ponds. As rainwater kept coming in, it would just infiltrate into the ground and migrate,” Marty said.
The Cornejo brothers worked with regulatory and government agencies for approximately five years to iron out environmental issues. It took another three years to develop the land into the industrial park it is today.