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Archive for Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Group hopes to restore Garden City hotel

December 28, 2004

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— Nearly three decades after it was closed as a fire hazard, the historic Windsor Hotel may reopen to guests if a preservation group has its way.

The hotel was called the "Waldorf of the prairie" after it opened in 1889, a comparison to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, said Eric Keller, president of the Finney County Preservation Alliance.

The four-story structure was built in Italian renaissance style with a distinctive three-floor atrium and a ground-floor retail section.

"I think the Windsor is still the most identifiable landmark in the city," along with the oversized swimming pool known as the Big Pool, Keller said.

The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

After the state fire marshal closed the hotel in 1977, the retail section remained open. The only remaining business, Garnand Furniture, has announced plans to leave.

"Boy, if we start visualizing that thing as a torn-down empty lot, that's scary," said Rick Kready, vice president of operations for the Topeka-based Pioneer Group, which is helping in the revitalization effort. "That's a significant feature of downtown Garden City."

The Preservation Alliance, a nonprofit group, owns the building and hopes to restore it in a multimillion-dollar project.

The organization has $100,000 to refurbish the building and make repairs.

However, full restoration might cost $12 million, Keller said, and would include repairing leaky skylights, stabilizing the building, furnishing it and installing air conditioning and heating.

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