Anyone with plans to use the Great Bend Events Center for activities come September can rest easy, said Christina Hayes, community coordinator and Convention and Visitors Bureau director.
The re-carpeting of the facility’s main room that started this month will be done by Sept. 1. Work will start on the balance of the carpeting project on Friday and continue through next.
“Progress is going really well,” Hayes said.
Kustom Floor Designs of Great Bend is doing the work at a cost of $99,000. The project involves 12-foot tile perimeter around the main events room with the rest being carpet, a “walk-off” carpet in the back rooms, and mostly tile in the vestibule, foyer and Conference Room C.
The carpet will be in squares that can be replaced. The color scheme will be basically grays with some tan to match existing features.
The work is being done in August when there are no events taking place in the center.
The cost is in the city’s budget and part of an effort to renovate the city-owned building. Hayes said Kustom Floor not only had the low bid, but their samples were picked from samples submitted from all bidders by the City Council in a blind test.
With the new carpet, a new portable dance floor and the ability to roll portable bars on the tiled portion of the floor, Hayes said the changes will really bring the center up to date.
Yet this year, she wants to get the outside painted. This will incorporate the new gray color scheme that was used on the new canopy.
Next year, Hayes would like to see new air walls installed to make dividing up the main room easier, have the bathrooms remodeled and have the words “Events Center” emblazoned on the entrance.
A long road
The carpet is just the latest improvement.
Changes have included:
• The old canopy and supporting columns were removed.
It was replaced by a 34-by-60-foot canopy covering 2,000 square feet with a 14-foot clearance. Along with this, there will be an 18-by-80-foot plaza area in front of the center.
• About 8,500 square feet of the southeast quarter of the parking lot was removed and replaced. This is sloped, making the building more handicapped accessible and improving drainage.
• Additional repair of the external facade with the new gray colors.
• Some of the front doors were be replaced with wider doors. There is also be an automatic door opener installed.
In addition, there is a new handicapped ramp.
• Variable LED lighting under the canopy is in place.
• An ice and snow melting system under the canopy was also installed.
• To separate the city-owned Events Center and the neighboring and now closed Great Bend Hotel and Convention Center, a covered walkway connecting the two buildings was removed.
• The CVB was moved from its old location at the intersection of 10th and Monroe to a remodeled space in the center.
Attached to back of the Events Center is a massive, two-floor office complex which has been vacant for many years. It will remain so for a while longer, Hayes said.
Severely outdated and in need of repair, this is a project for down the road. The air conditioning alone would cost $500,000, plus the bathrooms don’t work and the lighting is not up to code, she said.
The complex used to house several businesses, offices and agencies, and even the CVB. And, a few years back, local officials pushed for it to house the offices of the Kansas Department of Agriculture after that department’s lease expired on its Topeka facility.
However, the KDA eventually relocated to Manhattan.
In August 2011, Ambika Enterprises, a partnership between husband and wife Tejal and Amarish Patel of Concordia, and an uncle, Ishwar Patel of Vancouver, Canada, bought the hotel portion. The family, which already operated smaller hotels in Concordia and Beatrice, Neb., officially took over the hotel portion of the Highland Complex on Aug. 23, 2011.
In June 2011, the council approved utilizing $500,000 donated by an anonymous group of local residents to purchase the convention center, which included the attached office complex behind the center.
The attached hotel (also known as the Parkside Hotel and now called the Great Bend Hotel) has 174 rooms and was started in 1962. But, the hotel is now closed and the building is owned by The Retreat at Great Bend LLC., a limited liability company based in Springfield, Mo.
There have been many complaints that the structure has been allowed to deteriorate and become an eyesore. The city and private individuals have helped clean up the property.
The center and the office complex were built in the 1980s.