Windsor project bidding period extended




Those involved in plans to renovate Garden City's Windsor Hotel hope three extra weeks of seeking bids will draw more interested contractors.

Initially, bids for a structural renovation of the building, necessary before any other rehabilitation is done, were to be opened on Wednesday.

Don Harness, president of the Finney County Preservation Alliance, said due to some miscommunication, it was decided to extend the period for receiving bids to Aug. 14.

"We're interested in getting as many interested bidders as possible, so we called everybody and extended it. They've gotten a couple of good responses, so hopefully we'll have a good response on the 14th," Harness said. "We just didn't get the notification out in a timely manner."

Steve Cottrell, city engineer, said the bid extension is intended to try to attract more interest from contractors.

"And I think we've been able to do that. We've got a few folks that hadn't looked at it previously who do this kind of work, and they're looking at it," he said.

Harness said some contractors indicated several weeks ago that they weren't going to bid due to a lack of time. With the extension, he thinks some may reconsider.

"I don't really know how many will respond, but all we need is one good one," he said.

The 93-room hotel was built in 1887 by John Stevens, one of Garden City's founders. The Preservation Alliance has been working for years on trying to save the building.

The current project will feature several improvements, including a new skylight and roof; a metal facade across the front; removing downstairs floor joists and the wood floor, and replacing the floor with concrete; replacing columns in two middle sections; and replacing the presidential suite floor.

Funds to pay for the project are coming from a nearly $872,000 transportation enhancement grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation. As recipient of the funds, the city of Garden City is acting on behalf of the Preservation Alliance on the Windsor project.

Depending on the contractor's schedule, Harness said he hopes work can begin in the fall. When finished, the project will take care of the majority of the structural work on the building, he said.

"Generally, this project involves a lot of structural work. Part of it, too, will involve tearing up floors to see what shape the rest of the building is in," Harness said. "When the plumbers put in the bathrooms, they weren't as sympathetic to the joists as they should have been. Part of the process will be opening up those areas to see exactly what is there."

Following this part of the renovation, likely sometime in 2014, the Preservation Alliance will use a $180,000 Lois K. Walls Foundation grant to renovate the lobby area and cupola, Harness said.

"That will be something real visible to the public moving forward," he said. "The roof and the skylight probably won't be something real visible to the public, but it's really important to the building. Hopefully, by the spring of next year we'll have something to show off to people."

Eventually, a developer, GC Windsor Developers LLC, hopes to perform an even larger rehabilitation project to create 23 affordable senior living apartments, space for retail shops and offices, meeting areas, a restaurant and bar, and banquet facilities. Last fall, developers estimated it could cost around $12 million to make the development happen.

The total project may 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 future Community Improvement District and Rural Housing Improvement District for the property.

In January, the city reiterated its support for the project as part of an application by the developer for tax credits. That application was denied in May, according to developer Ross Vogel.

"Nothing's happening at this point. Obviously, we certainly want to see something happen there, but a lot of the pieces of the puzzle have to fit together," Vogel said.

Fundraising is continuing locally. On Sept. 21, the Preservation Alliance will hold a concert at the Stevens Park bandshell featuring Asleep at the Wheel and a yet-to-be-determined opening band. The event will also feature an auction of items from the Windsor.

"We're going to be selling some claw foot bathtubs, and sinks, and toilets as mother-in-law gifts. And we have commemorative benches and picture frames made from the floor joists that we'll be taking orders for. It'll be a great time," Harness said.

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