City considers future of old American Legion building

10/3/2012

One proposal seeks to turn facility into apartment complex.

One proposal seeks to turn facility into apartment complex.

BY RACHAEL GRAY

rgray@gctelegram.com

Garden City commissioners on Monday heard a proposal from a local property owner to turn the former American Legion building into an apartment complex.

Candace Gamino, property owner, submitted the only proposal in the city's timeline from early August until Thursday.

Finney County Economic Development Corp. and Downtown Vision did submit a proposal after the deadline, suggesting the building be turned into offices for both entities, as well as others.

City commissioners did not accept the proposal because it was late.

Gamino's proposal includes turning the building, 125 W. Pine St., into at least four three-bedroom, two bath units.

"Our intent is to keep the facade of the building as is, except for minor repairs and new windows that are similar to the style of the original design," according to the proposal made by Gamino and her son, Carlos.

The proposal states the project would be financed through a loan and private savings. Renovation would take approximately six months from the date of the approval of the site plans.

Commissioners will not take action to accept or deny the proposal until a later date. The Gaminos will make a formal presentation on the project at an upcoming meeting, commissioners said.

If commissioners do not like the idea they can put it out to bid again, they said.

Gamino said she wants to meet the housing shortage need in Garden City, and offer luxury apartments.

"We want to do something high-end again, and do something nice for Garden City," she said during Tuesday's meeting.

In a separate interview with The Telegram, Gamino said she envisions business people renting the apartments.

"We wanted Garden City to have something more high-end, on a different scale," she said.

She said that includes business people.

"But we rent to people from all walks of life," she said.

Gamino is the property manager for Garden Grove apartments on North Campus Drive, but said this is something separate.

She also owns a property at 704 N. Main St., which is about to open up for rentals, she said.

In order for the American Legion building to be turned into apartment rentals, it would need to be re-zoned, according to Kaleb Kentner, Garden City planning and community development director.

That would be about a 90-day process, he said.

The Pine Street building — an aging edifice built in 1931 specifically for local veterans — became a public facility when the city commission chose in early 2011 to award the former armory, 405 S. Main St., to the American Legion Post 9, a fraternal veterans organization.

Basically, the two buildings were exchanged between the veterans group and the city.

The procedure to solicit proposals for the Pine Street building and have them evaluated by city commissioners is the same process city officials used when deciding what to do with the former armory building, after it was deeded to Garden City by the state.

The former Kansas National Guard armory came into the city's possession in 2010 after state officials announced in December 2009 that Garden City was one of 18 communities statewide that would lose its armory due to state budget cuts.

Following that event, city commissioners solicited requests from a handful of community groups, area organizations and even some local businesses interested in taking or purchasing the large facility.

The commission ultimately awarded the armory to the Legion in March 2011 and took the old Pine Street building off the Legion's hands.

City Engineer Steve Cottrell has told commissioners that the city has no floor plans for the Pine Street building, which is about 3,300 square feet per floor. The building is also not currently ADA-accessible, according to the city engineer.

The building is appraised at $383,800 this year, according to the Finney County Appraiser's office, and is located in a commercial district. City officials said rezoning for other purposes may be possible, depending on the use of the building.

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