Plan not the best for Windsor Hotel
People will say I'm a fool for turning down $14 million. On Dec. 14 Vogel Properties made a $10 million to $14 million proposal to the Finney County Preservation Alliance to turn the Windsor Hotel into senior living. The plan will gut 93 hotel rooms to construct 23 apartments. Office space is proposed on the ground floor with a potential restaurant, though not guaranteed.
If the proposal is accepted, the Windsor Hotel's potential will be forever lost.
There is a Facebook page titled "NOT living in Garden City, Kansas." With 1,832 fans, it's one of the most popular Facebook pages in southwest Kansas. It continues to grow, because dreams in this community are continually cashed in for dollar signs. Here, the dream is a fully-restored Windsor Hotel with retail space, restaurant, a conference center, spa, boutique stores and a handful of apartments mixed in with luxury hotel rooms and executive suites. Big dream, huh? The dream is almost as ridiculous as building a casino and arena in Dodge City. Dodge, however, does not have a "NOT living in Dodge City, Kansas" Facebook page. They build their dreams and "get everything," as the saying goes.
The Windsor Hotel is our chance to "get something," but senior housing will not provide the most beneficial use, or an attraction. Historic sites are the number one tourist attraction in the United States. If you doubt Garden City's history can draw tourists, stop and flip through the guestbook at the Finney County Historical Museum.
Restoration projects take time, and when done right, offer economic boom. The McPherson Opera House in McPherson, Kansas took 24 years and $8 million, but was accomplished as a grassroots project. McPherson did it, and so can Garden. They saw few results until the 15th year. The Alliance (founded in 1997) has reached that year. In October we received a $30,000 grant to restore the hotel tower and a $150,000 grant to restore the lobby. The 2012 lobby restoration will spark more interest in the project and offer the opportunity to open the Windsor Hotel to the public five days a week.
Housing may be needed in Garden City, but not in the Main Street business district. There is no point in having a downtown if it's slowly taken over by apartments and offices. The current senior living proposal may be an option, but it's not the only one. I have received a letter of intent from Tony Krsnich and the Landmark Investment group, also interested in senior housing. I'll be sharing the letter with my fellow Alliance board members during our next meeting. While Vogel Properties expects immediate action, the Landmark Investment group is willing to stand on the sidelines while we strive for our dream.
I may be a fool, but on Jan. 4, I will say NO to senior housing. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."
The greatest achievements in life are accomplished by failures who refuse to give up.
Nelson is a Finney County Preservation Alliance board member.
United Way donors make a difference
The board of directors and staff of the Finney County United Way would like to take this opportunity to thank the many Finney County donors for their generous support of our 2012 campaign. We are very grateful and inspired every year by your kindness. You have helped improve thousands of lives right here in Finney County.
Year after year, our community shows tremendous support for the United Way, allowing us to partner with 19 agencies and two community initiatives with the help of your donation. In turn, these programs support thousands of people, possibly your neighbors, colleagues, family members and friends who need the assistance of a United Way agency. These agencies offer life-changing programs to people from all walks of life. Your support of this year's campaign will help ensure these programs continue to receive maximum funding from the United Way.
This letter also serves as a reminder to those of you who have meant to make a donation and have not yet done so. Give as thanks for the blessings in your life. Give so that the less fortunate in our community may share in those blessings as well. You can send your contribution to FCUW at P.O. Box 1628, Garden City. If it would help, we will accept quarterly payments or you might ask your employer if payroll deduction is possible.
Thank you all again for your caring consideration this year. You have truly made Finney County a better place.
Halloran is the board president.