After more than a year of preparation and work at the old Western Insurance building, including demolition in recent months, construction will soon begin to prepare the remaining building for independent- living, senior apartments.
In a news conference hosted by the city of Fort Scott Monday morning, leaders of the city and the project gave an update on its process and answered questions.
Flint Hills Holdings Group, under president and CEO Tony Krsnich, purchased the buildings at the block of First Street between Main and National in June of 2014, with the goal of putting in 35 one- and two-bedroom units, a project which could add up to about $6 million of investments.
The group has completed similar projects in cities such as Lawrence, Parsons and Kansas City and found success in that area service. Krsnich said they like to look for projects that would include working on historical buildings in order to help preserve them and their legacy, which attracted them to Fort Scott.
With the sale of the buildings, the city of Fort Scott invested almost $1 million in an environmental cleanup of the building as well as the demolition of the building alongside National Avenue. That area will be used as a parking lot.
“The project wouldn’t have been possible without the city,” Krsnich said of the city’s investment in the building, saying he hopes the new apartments will bring more residents downtown as well as more businesses and employees.
City Manager Dave Martin said not only the city leaders but the residents of the community showed support for that investment that would improve the downtown appearance as well as potentially encourage others to invest in vacant spaces located downtown.
“This project isn’t going to fix our downtown,” director of economic development Heather Smith said. “But what it will do, I think, is bring opportunity for additional developments.”
Krsnich said construction will begin within the historic building in January and will likely be complete by October. Already a list is forming for those interested in becoming residents, which could lead to a waiting list as Krsnich said they expect the apartments to rent out quickly.