Supporters of renovating the building that once housed the Windsor Hotel know there's no simple path to the lofty goal.
They received another reminder of as much while seeking bids for a big project needed as part of efforts to maintain the integrity and viability of a building that opened as a hotel in 1889, and would go on to achieve acclaim as "The Waldorf of the Prairies."
The Windsor Hotel closed in 1977, and in recent years the Finney County Preservation Alliance has steadfastly worked toward stabilizing and revitalizing the historic structure — one that ideally would deliver housing needed in Garden City, and serve as a catalyst in driving more traffic to the downtown district.
Plans to move forward on the project included securing a $675,200 Transportation Enhancement — Historic Category grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation. With a local match, roughly $844,000 was available for work involving a new roof and skylight, metal facade, removing downstairs floor joists and the wood floor and replacing the floor with concrete.
A shortage of bids brought proof of the challenging scope of the project. The city did recently award the project to The Wilson Group, Inc., of Greenwood, Mo., for a low bid of $722,129 for a scaled-down version with some parts of the plan deducted to reduce overall cost.
Not included were plans to demolish some floors and walls, repairs throughout and work on the skylight.
Knowing the skylight project should accompany roof work, the preservation alliance is considering ways to cover the cost of a new skylight, one of many pieces of an overall building renovation plan estimated at $15 million to $20 million.
While installation of a new roof and other efforts to stabilize the building will move forward, some might view the scaled-down work as a setback.
The preservation alliance, however, remains upbeat and determined to stay on the long, difficult road toward new life for the building.
We would expect no less from a group that knows how such an important part of local history should play a key role in the community's future.