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City of Fort Scott is working to bring new life to the old Weste - KOAM TV 7

City of Fort Scott is working to bring new life to the old Western Insurance Building

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In downtown Fort Scott, situated between restaurants and offices, is the old Western Insurance Building, a structure with deep roots in the city.

"My uncle started working there when he got out of the navy in the 1940's right after world war two," said Fort Scott resident Carol Reeder. "My dad's cousin worked there for years. I worked there a couple of years after high school, started at 60 cents an hour."

Once the host of bustling activity, the building now sits idle and ridden with mold and asbestos.  

"It's just mainly sat vacant to deteriorate for quite some time," said Dave Martin, For Scott city manager. "And it got to where it was actually going to be a hazard, not only to the city, but to the citizens."

In June, Kansas City-based Flint Hills Holdings Group purchased the building at a tax sale for one dollar.

Now, city officials are working with the developers on a plan to transform it into approximately 40 senior-living apartments.

The project is estimated to cost $9 million, of which the city will pay about $1 million for environmental cleanup.

Fort Scott resident Bud Hall says it is a good idea to revitalize the downtown, but he is concerned it could be costly for residents.

"You know our taxes are so bad here already," said Hall. "I feel like there's going to have to be paid for someway."

"If we don't do anything with that building, we're look at potentially four times that cost to demolish both structures later, said Heather Griffith, director of economic development in Fort Scott.

Griffith says the goal is to help bolster the future of Fort Scott overall. 

"I'm trying to picture what this will look like in a few years when we have 40 to 60 living downtown that aren't right now, using the coffee shop, shopping in the retail stores."

Resident Carol Reeder says she is looking forward to the building's new life.  

"I think it will be wonderful for downtown. A big asset."

 

According to Griffith, the project will not impose additional costs to residents. It will come from a capital improvement sales tax.

City commissioners will have to approve the building plans, which are on the agenda for the next meeting on September 2. 

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