There has been some good news in the ongoing effort to renovate downtown buildings, Great Bend Economic Development President Sara Hayden said, addressing the Great Bend City Council Monday night.
Last fall, the Kansas Department of Commerce launched a new community revitalization program, the Historic Economic Asset Lifeline (HEAL), to address the issue of restoring the allure to Kansas downtowns, she said. With HEAL, the state assists building owners with matching grants to cover eligible expenses as historic properties are revitalized.
The planned Landing Restaurant & Outdoor Gathering Place at Forest and Williams was awarded $43,960 in Regular HEAL grants. It was one of 220 project applications, 22 of which are receiving $1,294,715 in matching funds.
“We’re really excited to have a new restaurant in town when that’s finished, and new loft spaces, and of course a great outdoor area for the community,” Hayden said.
The eatery will be inside the now-vacant building adjacent to the empty lot. The loft project includes the upstairs.
“They did award those HEAL grants last year but just waited until last week to submit their press release,” Hayden said. “So we’ve had to keep a button on our lips until that was finally released.”
The Landing project was one the seven submitted by GBED, she said. It was the only one funded.
“So many of you are probably thinking, ‘where is that? I’ve never seen that before,’” she said. “That’s because it doesn’t exist yet. It is being built at the site of a vacant lot adjoining the B-29 mural.
Andy Mingenback owns the building with the mural. Last September, the Barton County Commission awarded him a $20,000 Facade Improvement Grant.
At that time, Mingenback said he wanted to restore the front of the building, as well as develop the lot into a green space with amphitheater and other amenities.
Grants are divided into two funding categories for cities with fewer than 50,000 residents. There are regular grants, like the one received by The Landing, and emergency awards to make investments in buildings that are under-utilized, dilapidated or in danger of collapse. There were 24 of these, with 10 sharing $585,000.
Among these was Pretty Boy Floyd’s Underground Restaurant and Event Venue in Ellsworth for $65,000 and Stiles Mortuary Building in Wilson for $50,000.
A team effort
HEAL is possible through a collaboration of the Kansas Department of Commerce’s Community Development Division, Kansas Main Street, and the Governor’s Office of Rural Prosperity at the KDOC.
The program is designed to transform buildings for new or expanding businesses, housing, arts and culture, civic engagement, childcare or entrepreneurship – so they can once again become economic drivers in the community.
“The goal of the HEAL is to rescue downtown buildings and restore them as productive spaces for business and community use,” Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary David Toland said. “Seeing our downtown districts turned into more attractive and vibrant places to live and work, along with creating new jobs and services for Kansans, is key to our state’s prosperity.”
The Patterson Family Foundation is another partner in the endeavor.
“Vibrant downtown areas are important to the future prospects of smaller communities, so it was not a difficult decision for us to join the Department of Commerce and its partners in funding HEAL grants,” said Lindsey Patterson Smith, president of the Patterson Family Foundation. “HEAL grants give architecturally significant buildings a new lease on life, so they can continue to play vital roles in their communities.”
Regular HEAL Award recipients include:
• The Star Block Restaurant/Retail, Osage City – $65,000
• Restoration of 17 E. Fourth Ave – Brewery Manufacturing, Emporia – $65,000
• HL Hart Building Coworking & Apartment, Newton – $65,000
• Historic Lowis Building – Nesting Expansion, Colby – $65,000
• Atchison Riverfront Brewery Project, Atchison – $65,000
• Letha’s, Plainville – $8,000
• Farmer & Florist Renovation/Expansion, Marysville – $65,000
• Weathered Wood Home Store, Council Grove – $65,000
• Heartland Gamebirds & Lodge, Courtland – $65,000
• The Gym at Matfield Green Recording Studio, Matfield Green – $65,000
• 1010 Main, Goodland – $65,000
• 113 W. Lincoln Ave – Fitness Center, Lincoln – $65,000
• Bill and Essie’s BBQ LLC, Marion – $65,000
• Farmers Union Co-op Rehab-Children’s Museum, Alma – $65,000
• Farmhouse Fresh in Jetmore, Jetmore – $57,260
• OmGrown Yoga & Wellness Collective, Baldwin City – $41,780
• The Landing Restaurant & Outdoor Gathering Place, Great Bend – $43,960
• Junction City Brewery & Restaurant, Junction City – $65,000
• Midland Theater Front of the House & Stage Restoration, Coffeyville – $65,000
• Marquee Performing arts Center, Winfield – $38,71,
• Tree House of Early Learning, Independence – $65,000
• Robin’s Nest, Minneola – $65,000
Emergency HEAL Award recipients include:
• Elmo Building, Burden – $40,000
• Union Gas Building Renovation, Caney – $65,000
• Pretty Boy Floyd’s Underground Restaurant and Event Venue, Ellsworth – $65,000
• Cohn-Gardner Hill Department Store, Eudora – $65,000
• The Eureka Project, Eureka – $41,000
• McDonald Hall, Fort Scott – $65,000
• Kollock and Bragunier-Otte Buildings, Peabody – $65,000
• David Rettiger Building, Strong City – $65,000
• Jacob Engles Dry Goods/Restaurant and Distillery, Wellington – $64,000
• Stiles Mortuary Building, Wilson – $50,000