Windsor rehabilitation project moving forward

1/17/2013

By SCOTT AUST

By SCOTT AUST

saust@gctelegram.com

The president of the Finney County Preservation Alliance said Wednesday that the ongoing process to renovate the historic Windsor Hotel in downtown Garden City continues to move forward, and the public should start to see more activity sometime this year.

"We're close. But there are lots of hoops yet," Don Harness, president of the preservation group, said during the organization's annual meeting at the Downtown Vision office.

"We're as close as we've ever been to the renovation of the Windsor Hotel," he said in a follow-up interview after the meeting.

With an estimated $12 million price tag, the Windsor Hotel Historic Rehabilitation Project proposes 23 affordable senior living apartments, space for retail shops and offices, meeting areas, a restaurant and bar, and banquet facilities.

The 93-room hotel was built in 1887 by John Stevens, one of Garden City's founders.

On Tuesday, the Alliance and GC Windsor Developers LLC asked the city to renew support for the project as part of an application for a housing tax credit from the Kansas Housing Resources Corp.

The resolution also asked the city to commit to providing 30 public parking spaces, cooperation on applications for Neighborhood Revitalization tax rebates, possible creation of a community improvement district and other applications that may be needed for other tax credits and incentives for the project.

In addition to waiting for that tax credit decision, which should be delivered sometime in May, Harness said the group is waiting for its architect to finish bid papers for a portion of the renovation project that uses a Transportation Enhancement grant.

Harness expects to go out for bid in late February using the roughly $872,000 TE grant to make several improvements, including a new skylight and roof, a metal facade across the front, removing downstairs floor joists and the wood floor and replacing it with concrete, replacing columns in the middle two sections, and replacing the presidential suite floor.

"It looks like it's going to work fine. It's the details that get complicated," Harness said.

If that part of the project begins sometime in the spring, it could put some limits on public tours of the hotel, depending on when work starts.

The total project will use a combination of state and federal historic tax credits, as well as a bond through the city of Garden City using revenue generated from creating a Community Improvement District and Rural Housing Improvement District for the property.

Harness said the Preservation Alliance always has felt community access is important, and the GC Windsor proposal does just that. He said part of the agreement included for the tax credits they are applying for is that the project must have a certain percentage of community space, which guarantees access to the lobby, the atrium and heritage space.

Harness said if the developer's tax credit application is approved in May, progress on the overall project could really swing into gear sometime in the second quarter of the year.

"There are some hoops to jump through like I said earlier, but everything's in place for it to move forward, and the fact that we have some legitimate developers in place," Harness said.

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