The new Western Senior Living center located in the old Western Insurance building held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and gave tours Tuesday afternoon, but continues to complete finishing touches before welcoming residents after their true Grand Opening on December 30.
“Today is about the salvation of the Western Building,” said Tony Krsnich, president and CEO of the Flint Hills Holding Group.
Built in 1929, the old downtown building was in danger of being torn down after flooding damage and health hazards made it inhabitable. But when the Flint Hills Holding Group stepped in, their cooperation with the city of Fort Scott prevented the demolition of the Western building, which itself would have cost millions of dollars.
“It was really clear the potential this building had to impact the downtown,” said Fred Bentley, the director of rental housing allocation in Kansas, who said he was impressed with Fort Scott as a location as well as a partner in the endeavor.
Purchased in 2014 with demolition and construction occurring in the past year, the building is nearing the completion of its 35, one- and two-bedroom apartments available for lease by residents 55 years and older. With a focus on the community of the residents, Krsnich said they included amenities such as a large community room, indoor putting green, paintings and other options.
Patrick Michaelis, business development officer for the central region of the Midwest Housing Equity Group, said the goal of his company has always been to make lives better by providing affordable housing. Already, seven of the 35 units have been reserved for new residents, something Krsnich said he has never seen on a project before its completion.
“The community stepped up to the plate on this and it shows,” Krsnich said. “This is an iconic building that has now been restored.”
While touch-ups such as painting and caulking remain, two units that are completed were available for those interested in tours.