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Barton's building boom
Highland Hotel Demo
John Deere shovels were at work Tuesday demolishing the south side of the former Highland Hotel on 10th Street. The demo project at 3017 10th in Great Bend will clear the lot in preparation for Great Bend Economic Development’s as-yet unannounced plans for the site. - photo by Michael Gilmore

The sight of something coming down on a major thoroughfare in a community is a sign that something big will be going up.

The demolition of the former Highland Hotel on 10th Street in Great Bend that began last week has drawn some attention, as usually happens when a project of that scope begins.

Great Bend Economic Development’s “Project Change” began as a roundtable discussion in January 2022, but ended with the decision to “go for it.”

Sara Arnberger, GBED director, noted that the conversation had been happening for years among members of the community, to either save the hotel property or turn it into a proud and prominent business as befits its location.

As the year began, the hotel came up as a project to undertake several times, and GBED began the arduous process of acquiring the property. After that, another phase was to locate and enlist an operation with the means and ability to tear down the 60,000 square-foot building.

That teardown is underway, but there are more “i’s” to dot and “t’s” to cross before the lot can be prepared for renovation.

While we can hint and guess at what’s to come, a formal announcement is still closely-guarded as GBED is committed to proceed in the best way possible.

We can look back at the past 12 months and know that when we are faced with adversity, we can regroup, recover and rebuild. We anticipate the future.

Like the presents that are first hidden in the closet, then brought out to place under the Christmas tree, awaiting that Christmas morning shredded-paper party.

Or the countdown that occurs on New Year’s Eve, as we look from a year that brought a large share of hope and promise to the county, its buildings, businesses and people, toward the next 12 months as we prepare to do the same again.

— Mike Gilmore