FCEDC rejects offer to move downtown
By SCOTT AUST
While the idea of moving downtown had appeal, the Finney County Economic Development Corp. decided Wednesday not to accept a proposal to move into a new home downtown.
Bruce Glass has pitched the idea of renting space in the McCallister Building at 118 E. Laurel St. to FCEDC, and other non-profit organizations Finney County United Way and the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce.
Offices for the Chamber, FCEDC and United Way are currently located along Fulton Street. The FCEDC is located at 1509 E. Fulton Terrace, while the Chamber and United Way share offices at 1511 E. Fulton Terrace.
Glass and his wife, Beverly Schmitz Glass, executive director of Downtown Vision, are buying the building and renovating it into office space for Downtown Vision, which needs to move out of its current Main Street office at the Windsor Hotel due to an upcoming renovation project. The Glasses are looking to rent space in the building to other organizations.
FCEDC board members couldn't justify paying $7,800 a year more in rent in the new building. The FCEDC currently pays $1,200 per month to rent 1,580 square feet at Fulton Terrace. Glass offered the organization 1,850 square feet in the McAllister Building for $1,850 per month.
Board member Bob Tempel said while he likes the idea of having non-profits in one location, he couldn't justify spending additional tax dollars for rent.
"I think it's a nice location, but we're limited on our budget already," he said.
Board member Bob Kreutzer agreed.
"Nice and new would be really nice to have, but I don't know if the dollars work. I think we just have to crowd in as long as we can. If good things happen in the next couple years it might change our attitude," he said.
Tom Walker, board chairman, said a downtown location would put FCEDC closer to city and county departments it works with every day, but most of the non-profits, with the exception of Downtown Vision, are already at Fulton Terrace.
"I understand Downtown Vision needs to be downtown, but I think would be a real stretch to make that expenditure right now. I think we're limited by dollars and cents," Walker said.
Walker added that the FCEDC's current landlord has offered to enter into up to a three-year lease at the current rent.
Glass said Downtown Vision needs to remain downtown, not only to serve its members, but also for its accreditation with state and national Main Street organizations. Moving to Fulton Terrace isn't an option for Downtown Vision, he said.
"We feel the McAllister Building might be a better location for folks coming into town looking at our city than where you're at now," Glass told the board. "From my standpoint, I think it's a better location for you and would serve the community better, but ultimately it's your decision."
The board voted to stay in its Fulton Terrace office and to seek a three-year lease.
Glass said following the meeting he was disappointed in the decision, but would look to fill it up with other entities. He said the Chamber also has indicated it won't move in.
"According to our Realtor, we shouldn't have a problem filling it up," Glass said.
Glass said he will close on the building purchase later this week, or early next week.
In other business Wednesday:
FCEDC president Lona DuVall said Garden City will host representatives of economic development organizations from across western Kansas on June 5 and 6 for the quarterly Western Kansas Rural Economic Development Alliance meeting.
Fifty-four counties in western Kansas are represented by WKREDA. DuVall isn't sure how many will attend, although past meetings have drawn 30 to 50 people. Attendees will discuss issues related to economic development, including topics such as legislative policy, housing and workforce development.