Baldwin City exploring partnership with family of late city councilman to renovate old gym as community center

photo by: File photo

Baldwin City is exploring a partnership with the family of late City Councilman Stephen Bauer to save the old gymnasium at Eighth and Chapel streets and renovate it for a community center.

Baldwin City has started exploring a public/private partnership with the family of a deceased former City Council member to renovate a local landmark into a community center.

Baldwin City Mayor Casey Simoneau said the city is in discussion with the family of the late Stephen and Alison Bauer on an agreement to renovate the 1920s-era gymnasium at the corner of Eighth and Chapel streets. The school district agreed to sell the gym with the neighboring middle school to developer Tony Krsnich in 2013. Krsnich later sold the gym to then-Councilman Stephen Bauer, who died with his wife in a May 2017 automobile accident. Bauer was using the gym for his woodworking projects.

Simoneau said discussions with the Bauer family were in the early stages, but the proposed arrangement would have the city lease the gym from the family while the family undertook the extensive repairs needed for the gym. The lease arrangement would make the family’s investment in preparing the building eligible for tax credits. It is estimated that the arrangement would cost the city about $600,000, or about half the cost of the estimated repairs.

The gym needs a new roof, estimated to cost $100,000, Simoneau said. The wooden gym floor is also damaged beyond repair. The concern is that if needed repairs are not addressed soon, it will be too late to save the distinctive limestone building that has been a landmark in the community for nearly 100 years.

Although Simoneau said plans for the gym’s future uses are preliminary, early conceptions include installing a new multiuse floor, for use as such things as youth basketball and adult pickleball, rooms for community gatherings, office space and a commercial kitchen.

If all goes well, the arrangement could work well for the family and the city, which does not currently own any indoor recreational space, Simoneau said.

“There’s no way we could get into something like that for $600,000,” he said. “We need to do something soon if that building is to be saved.”

The city will move forward with discussions with the Bauer family and attempt to get a better understanding of repair costs, Simoneau said. He hoped to have something to present to the Baldwin City Council this month.


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