We want to be one of the premier hotels in the area.Daniel Greensberg, one of the partners that make up Retreat at Great Bend
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 at 3017 10th St. changed hands several times over the years as such facilities lost relevance. The Highland became the Holiday Inn, the Parkside Hotel and finally the Great Bend Hotel and Convention Center which closed two years ago.
With each successive owner and re-branding effort, the once model hotel spiraled into a deeper state of disrepair.
Now, the new owners, Retreat at Great Bend LLC. hope to reverse this.
“We want to be one of the premier hotels in the area,” said Daniel Greensberg, one of the partners that make up Retreat at Great Bend along with Frank Hansen of Bar-None Construction, Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada. Greensberg said he’s been to Great Bend several times and has seen the property.
According to information from the Barton County Appraiser’s Office, Retreat at Great Bend owns the facility with plans to convert it into a time-share resort.
“We’re going to do pretty much a full remodel,” he said. The building is poured concrete and demolition would be too costly.
“We were literally ready to pull the trigger” and start construction, Greensberg said, adding they had already bought furniture. Then they hit a delay lining up financing.
“There’s no exact timeline,” he said. “We are working with the bank. We are near the end of the process to get the loan.”
Greensberg and his partner are aware of the deterioration and the local frustration. But, “we are not intentionally letting anything degrade,” he said.
“It can’t be an overnight sort of thing,” he said, noting he’s heard the “eyesore” critique before. “It’s not the cheapest thing to do and not the quickest thing to do.”
“We are generally experienced in the hotel industry,” Greensberg said. “We just hit a snag.”
Hensen is equally eager to get started. He said they would like to get the financing wrapped up in the next week or two then begin. “I took this on with hopes of remodeling it,” he said.
But, they may consider selling if things don’t progress.
The state of the property
There is a lot to be done.
The Great Bend City Council on Aug. 8 approved abating the hotel property. Trash cans around the site are overflowing, weeds have been allowed to grow and other maintenance has not been done.
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.
Every time city crews mow, the cost for the work is assessed against the taxes — taxes that are going unpaid. But, nothing yet rises to the level of dangerous, a state that could prompt further city action against the privately owned property.
“There’s nothing much we can do about it,” City Code Enforcement Officer Stuart Baker said. “It’s still structurally sound.”
Greensberg said they have someone in Great Bend who is supposed to be keeping the site well kept, and they are in communication with the city.
Information from the Barton County Treasurer’s Office shows the first- and second-half 2017 taxes on the property have not been paid for a total of $42,062.70. And $41,030.94 is owed for 2016.
The Appraiser’s Office lists the facility as having 213,444 square feet. The 2018 value of the property is $562,850 for the land and $150,260, for a total of $713,110.
“Obviously we plan on paying all the taxes,” Greensberg said. After three years of back taxes owed, a commercial property is a candidate for the county tax sale.
Who are the owners?
The Great Bend Tribune traced the ownership of the once iconic hotel through Barton County records and documents from multiple states. Below is what was found.
Information from the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office notes Retreat at Great Bend is registered in Springfield, Mo.
The registered agent for the company is Russell W. Cook, who, out of the same address, is also the agent for 66 other properties around the country. Among those is also Great Bend Enterprises LLC (the same address as the old hotel).
Cook is not a partner, but serves as an attorney for the endeavor, Greensberg said.
A registered agent is a responsible third party who is registered in the same state in which a business entity was established and who is designated to receive official and government notices.
According to the filing document for the Retreat at Great Bend, it was filed with the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office on June 7, 2017, with the intent to open and operate a time-share resort. The application for a foreign limited liability company was submitted along with the $105 filing fee.
A limited liability company (LLC) is a corporate structure in which members are not personally liable for the company’s liabilities. They combine the characteristics of a corporation and a partnership or sole proprietorship.
A foreign LLC is an LLC formed in one state but which is carrying out or plans to carry out business in another state. A domestic LLC is a company formed in the state where it does business.
Retreat is also registered with the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office. The resident agent is Corporation Service Company in Topeka, and it is labeled a Kansas limited liability company.
Retreat at Great Bend is shown to be active and in good standing in both states.
History and ownership of the Highland traced
BY DALE HOGG
Everyone driving down 10th Street has seen the signs change at the former Highland Manor. The Highland has been the Holiday Inn, the Parkside Hotel and most recently the Great Bend Hotel and Convention Center, which closed two years ago.
Construction on the main portion of the building was started in 1963 and it opened as the Highland Manor in September 1964, said Karen Neuforth with the Barton County Historical Society. “It was state of the art,” she said.
In 1976, the pool was covered, creating the “Holidome,” she said. The convention center and office complex were constructed in the mid 1980s.
But, how did all the changes come to pass? Things get complicated, and research at the Barton County Register of Deeds Office, along with information from company websites, abstracts and the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office, yielded the following information.
• Harper Builders built it and Leonard F. Harper was the owner as part of Kinban Inc., a corporation formed in 1962 to establish the hotel along with Dale H. Weller and Donald J. Whelan.
It was operated under Highland Hotels through April 1998 when it was sold to Bristol Hotel Company of Dallas, Texas.
• In August 2002, Felcor Lodging Trust Inc., which had bought out Bristol, sold it to Horizon Hotel Company from Kansas City which operated it as a Holiday Inn.
• In September 2003, Horizon deeded to Springdale Lodging out of Arkansas. But that only lasted about a year and the loan was turned over to Farmers Bank and Trust in August 2004. Springdale has since gone out of business.
• In August 2010, Kinban, with W.R. Robbins as the resident agent, reentered the picture, taking over for the bank.
• 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 only from Kinban which owned the entire complex. The family, which already operated smaller hotels in Concordia and Beatrice, Neb., officially took over on Aug. 23, 2011. The hotel was rebranded as the Parkside.
• Also, in 2011, the City Council approved utilizing $500,000 donated by an anonymous group of local residents to purchase the convention center portion from Farmers Bank. Since then, the city renamed it the Events Center, started remodeling the facility and has taken steps to differentiate it from the hotel.
• Great Bend Hotel Holdings (with connections to Retreat at Great Bend) took over in May 2016, changing the name from Parkside to the Great Bend Hotel. Retreat became the owner in September 2016.
Retreat owners are planning to remodel the building into a time-share resort.