Leaders share community highlights at Visit Mulvane

Nancy Farber Mottola, city council member and co-owner of Luciano's, speaks at the Pix Community Center for "Visit Mulvane." Held annually, the event's primary objective is to attract potential business owners to the city. 

Area residents gathered Saturday morning at the Pix Community Center in Mulvane to hear from community leaders and business owners about highlights in the city.

With about 50 in attendance, city officials say the event was primarily intended to attract new businesses to downtown Mulvane. It also provided updates to current residents and business owners about ongoing developments in the city.

The event was organized in part by the Mulvane Downtown Revitalization Program, which seeks to revitalize buildings and businesses in the downtown area through the efforts of four action teams.

Charlie Cadwell, chair of the resource and support action team, says Mulvane is attractive to potential business owners because of available space and spaces undergoing renovation.

“And owners of businesses … will do whatever you want to make it a good place to have your business,” he said.

Since its formation in 2013, the revitalization program has led development for events like the annual beer and wine festival and the Doc Sunback Film Festival. The program’s beautification team created the murals displayed on several buildings in downtown Mulvane.

Businesses and other community organizations set up tables at the Pix Center for the event, allowing attendees to ask questions and obtain more information about the groups’ efforts in Mulvane.

Among those groups were Cowley College, Emerald Valley Estates, and the Mulvane Public Library.

Shannon Smith, director of the library, said “warmth” in the community is responsible for drawing customers to the library from surrounding areas, including Derby.

“I think it’s the people and the sense of community that you can’t get other places,” Shannon Smith said. “My mission down at the library has been people.”

As part of that mission, the library does not have self-checkout lines to promote interaction.

Along with near-daily after-school programs for students, the library offers free test proctoring. Smith said college students frequently come to the library to take exams.

Other speakers at the event included Jay Ensley, superintendent of Mulvane schools; an employee of Lil’ Deuce Scoop ice cream parlor; and Nancy Farber Mottola, city council member and chair of the downtown revitalization program.

Mottola, co-owner of Luciano’s, said establishing the Mulvane Land Bank has been an important stride in improving downtown.

“Getting those buildings back into individual hands, so that people could invest in buildings that they’ve purchased, as opposed to having one person or organization own 30 to 40 percent of them,” Mottola said.

The land bank was formed in 2017 to close properties owned by businessman Gordon Pendergraft for $450,000. He had owned the properties for more than 25 years with about $75,000 in back taxes due on the properties.

Cleaning up the buildings and getting them “up to code” has also been a priority, Mottola said. But with a handful of buildings still under renovation, that process is ongoing.

One example of that process can be seen in two adjacent properties at 100 and 102 W. Main.

In January, the land bank approved a purchase agreement to sell the two dilapidated buildings to a Larry Beck of Derby. As part of the agreement, Beck is responsible for removing debris from the two-story buildings, stabilizing multiple walls, and installing a new roof system.

Once repairs are complete, Beck plans to offer the space for rent or for sale.

Various iterations of Visit Mulvane have been held on and off since 2015, Cadwell said. He anticipates the city will host some form of the event next year.