Monday morning, the Barton County Commission hears an update on the county tax sale scheduled for next month. One of the properties currently destined for the auction block is the beleaguered former Highland Hotel, the one-time showcase-turned 10th Street eyesore.
However, County Treasurer Jim Jordan said Friday there is a chance the owners of the troubled property, Springfield, Mo.-based Retreat at Great Bend LLC., may settle up and remove it from the list. Still with plans to develop a resort at the 3017 10th location, they have been in touch with his office asking about a pay-off amount.
The total owed for the past three years, 2016-2018, is $115,392.10. A property is subject to the tax sale if taxes go unpaid for three years and the entire amount must be paid in order for it to be redeemed.
Retreat at Great Bend owns the facility with plans to convert it into a time-share resort, and that is still the intention, said Frank Hanson. Hansen of Bar-None Construction, Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada, is one of the owning partners.
They intend to develop a hotel and time-share facility on the site, he said. But, their first goal is to pay the taxes.
“We are working on that,” he said, but there is no timeline for the project. “We are trying to find financing.”
Owners are able to redeem parcels until noon, Monday, Oct. 21. The sale will be held in the courthouse at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 22.
To redeem a property, the owner needs to come to the Treasurer’s Office and pay the tax in full plus the $186 court cost. After that, the property will be removed from the tax sale.
According to information from the Treasurer’s Office, $32,298.46 is owed for 2018, $16,149.23 for the first half and $16,149.23 for the second. The total due for 2016 is $41,030.94 ($20,515.47 for the first half and $20,515.47 for the second), and total due for 2017 is $42,062.70 ($21,031.35 for the first half and $21,031.35 for the second).
The property has an appraised value of the property is $548,060, $521,900 for the land and $26,160 for the building, according to the Treasurer’s Office.
The Appraiser’s Office lists the facility as having 213,444 square feet.
Still a problem
In the meantime, it remains a nuisance for the City of Great Bend.
The City Council voted to abate the property last summer due to over-flowing trash cans, over-grown weeds and a lack of maintenance.
Now, the Police Department runs routine checks of the building to help curtail illegal activities. There have been reports of fixtures being stolen and homeless people squatting in some of the rooms, Great Bend Code Enforcement Officer Stuart Baker said.
Every time city crews mow, the cost for the work is assessed against the taxes.
Baker said he sent the owners a letter recently and they were recently in town to board up some of the broken windows and make other small repairs. Truck loads of furniture have been hauled out and there are roll-off trash containers being filled at the site.
Visible after a lap around the old hotel were several windows replaced with sheets of plywood and a pile of night stands and other furniture sitting outside by one of the doors.
Opening in 1964, the Highland Manor became a Great Bend landmark and local showcase. With the addition of the convention center and office complex in the 1980s, it was an anchor on 10th Street, the venue for meetings, banquets and important civic events.
However, that landmark changed hands several times over the years. The Highland became the Holiday Inn, the Parkside Hotel and finally the Great Bend Hotel and Convention Center which closed three years ago.
In June 2011, the City Council approved utilizing $500,000 donated by an anonymous group of local residents to purchase the convention center separately from the hotel. This portion has been remodeled and developed into the city’s Events Center.