New owner sought for Hutchinson hotel

2/16/2014

By JOHN GREEN

By JOHN GREEN

The Hutchinson News

HUTCHINSON (AP) — When Menzo Hainline bought Hutchinson's Stamey Hotel in the spring of 1958 with plans to convert it into apartments, he told a reporter with The Hutchinson News he was renaming it the Landmark Hotel because "there's usually a landmark in every town, and this building is just that."

He left "hotel" in the name, Hainline explained, because he was considering leaving part of the building as a hotel. Within a few years, however, the conversion to apartments was complete, The Hutchinson News reports.

The five-story brick and limestone building remains a structural landmark, denoting downtown Hutchinson's north end with its Renaissance Revival style architecture.

But it hasn't played host to the guests of its hotel heyday — purportedly, Howard Hughes in 1930, Rin Tin Tin III in 1949 and movie producer Saul Wurtzel who made it his headquarters while filming "Wait 'Til the Sun Shines, Nellie" in 1951 — for many, many years.

Instead, the building owned by Hutchinson Realtor Terry Messing houses low-income residents and its interior has significantly deteriorated over the years.

Messing, in declining health, has listed the 90-year-old building for sale on eBay for $130,000. The listing has since been removed, but at one point it had garnered two bids from the same bidder. Messing said he's also tried Craigslist and Facebook to list the building's sale. The appraised value of the property is currently $201,770.

"We've had some questions, a lot of questions," Messing said. "But when we tell them how bad it is, it scares them off."

He's had it on the market about six months, Messing said, but noted "I should have been trying to sell it five years ago."

He had no estimate on what the building would cost to simply repair.

"I'd just like to sell it and have someone else worry about it," Messing said.

Real estate agent Josie Thompson of J.P. Weigand & Sons Inc., one of those locally listing the property for Messing and taking interested parties on tours, said the best option is to sell the building for the price of the shell.

"The exterior is the best part, the most salvageable," Thompson said.

While some interior historic elements should also be preserved, Thompson opined, such as ceiling beams and terrazzo tile floors on the ground floor, original railings up the five flights of stairs, and some wooden ones upstairs, the most likely scenario is that the building be gutted and rebuilt with fewer apartments.

The plans for redevelopment will determine whether residents are displaced, Messing said.

The building, currently with 41 apartments, is about 65 percent occupied, Thompson said. About 80 percent of the apartments are habitable, but the rest have ceiling or wall damage that prevents their use.

On the top floor, the leaking roof, following last year's 6-inch rain, collapsed several areas of ceiling, which then ran down into apartments below, also making them uninhabitable, Messing said.

Insurance won't cover the damage, Messing said, and he can't afford to make the repairs. Rents currently range from $220 to $600 a month, with most in the $300 to $400 range.

Some rooms also have "plumbing issues," Thompson said.

The street corner originally housed the Zion Lutheran Church. The building was demolished in 1921 to make way for the hotel, according to a September 1922 news story.

C.W. Stamey, Charles Mackey and William Earl Hulse, all members of the Fifth Avenue Building Corp. and the Stamey Hotel Co., built the hotel.

Hulse, who designed the building, also designed the Reno County Courthouse and seven other courthouses in the state, as well as the Reno County Post Office, the Pactola Apartments and several other buildings in downtown.

Stamey was primarily a road builder, constructing many of the roads in Hutchinson and around Reno County, competing with Shears Co. for many projects at the time.

The original hotel has 125 rooms, including 65 with either a bathtub or shower tub, and two banquet rooms on the second floor. It sported a coffee shop and drug store.

"The large cases of plate glass arrived in Hutchinson in June, 1923," according to a report in the "Historic Resources Survey of Downtown" published in 1990. "The 6,000 pound shipment, which was said to have cost $5,000. The glass, which was for windows in the new Stamey, was speculated to have been the largest ship of plate glass ever received in Hutchinson for one construction job."

The ground floor has three suites which originally served as commercial space, including a cafe/coffee shop, but are now storage.

At some point, two widows, Bessie Cohn and Mollie Goldstein, who lived in the building's top floor, assumed ownership of the property, which their nephew, John B. Quigley, managed.

In April 1939, W. "Bill" Ryan Cross of Beloit and Larry Beck purchased the hotel operation, but not the property itself, and did an extensive remodel. Eventually they became owners of the property as well.

In December 1957, Hainline traded some 45 building lots he owned in the Prairie Village Addition north of 3oth and Plum, as well as a factory building at 209 N. Monroe, for the hotel property and its furnishings. Warren Schmitt later purchased the Prairie Village property from Beck and Cross and developed it into housing, according to various stories in The News.

Other owners prior to Messing, who purchased it in 1978, according to the Historic Resources Survey, included Cleve Stamey and the Gano family, of grain elevator fame.

The property has had several remodels over the years, including repairs after a 1974 fire in a third floor storage room, a $25,000 project when Messing first purchased it in 1978, and a $1.04 million project in 1990 split between the Landmark and Leon apartments funded in part by a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant, according to news accounts.

The best hope for the property, both Messing and Thompson said, is if a developer can qualify for historic tax credits or low-income housing tax credits, or a combination of the two, to help fund redevelopment, such as is occurring with the Wiley Building at First and Main.

Different developers have proposed using such tax credits to remodel the property twice in the last couple of years - including a $4.5 million proposal by Manske and Associates, who are doing the Wiley project - but it didn't make the cut for the limited credits either round.

"It could be a great return on investment if it could be developed into urban lofts of 2,000 to 4,000 square feet each," Thompson said. "In the summer, when things are green, it's a great view."

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Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, http://www.hutchnews.com

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