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Historic Hotel Gets New Lease on Life

Besse Hotel to Reopen as Pittsburg's Newest Affordable Housing Residence

PITTSBURG (December 9, 2010) - Officials from the City of Pittsburg, the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, Kansas Housing Resources Corporation and Garrison Development Company celebrated the completion of Besse Apartments at 121 E. 4th Street in Pittsburg. A $9.2 million dollar historic rehab, the 83-year-old former hotel now offers 46 affordable apartments in the heart of downtown.

"A big key to the development of this area is attracting more residents and new customers to support downtown businesses," said Blake Benson, President of the Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce. "This development will put nearly 50 more families within walking distance of downtown restaurants, retailers and professional offices, and that will have far-reaching effects now and into the future."

Kansas Housing Resources Corporation (KHRC) allocated $4.7 million from the Tax Credit Exchange Program (EXCHANGE) to help finance the hotel's renovation. The EXCHANGE program, created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, helps stalled tax credit developments move forward by allowing states to exchange up to 40 percent of their 2009 allocation for cash grants from the U.S. Department of Treasury.

"A vibrant downtown benefits the community as a whole, said Fred Bentley, KHRC's Rental Housing Division Director. "Housing developments, like the Besse Hotel, provide more choice for residents, improve the local tax base and create a built-in market for downtown employment and business."

Additional funding included $3.2 million in state and federal historic preservation tax credits from the Kansas Department of Revenue and National Park Service, a $2.1 million construction loan from M&I Bank with LaBette Bank, Bennington State Bank and University National Bank participating, a $1.2 million guaranteed loan from USDA Rural Development, a $200,000 loan from the City of Pittsburg and a $300,000 developer loan.

Opened in 1927 and closed in 1979, the Besse Hotel sat vacant until the Garrison Development Company secured funding to transform the building into high-rise apartments. "It has truly been a team effort from throughout the greater Pittsburg area that brought the Besse Apartments to fruition," said Gary Hassenflu. "All the stakeholders in the project's success - elected officials, city departments, the business community and residents - all wanted and worked for this day," said Hassenflu.

Local residents tour a first floor, two-bedroom unit at Besse Apartments in Pittsburg. The 13-story hotel, which remains Pittsburg's tallest commercial building, was placed on the National Register in 2008 for its architectural and historical significance as a grand, early-20th century hotel constructed in a small southeast Kansas town. The rehab includes a beautiful restoration of the hotel's two story lobby with its original woodwork and terrazzo tile.

The new apartments feature high-efficiency windows and each unit includes a stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, garbage disposal, microwave oven, ceiling fan, as well as washer and dryer hookups. Residents also have access to a parking lot, community room and exercise center. Rents for the one, two and three-bedroom aparments range from $314 to $600.

Tenants must be income-eligible. For leasing information, contact Garrison Properties at 620-230-0040. To learn more about the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program, call 800-752-4422.

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