|Year(s) Listed: • 1997|
|City/Town: • Wichita|
|Location Class: • Hotel/Motel|
|Built: | Abandoned:|
|Historic Designation: • National Register of Historic Places (April 13, 1972)|
|Status: • Saved|
|Contributor: Kansas Preservation Alliance|
Featured image from: By UNOBUDO – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21831188
By 1997, conditions had deteriorated to the point where the city had to take action. The hotel had recently been placed on the Kansas Preservation Alliance’s list of endangered historic buildings in Kansas. Two other buildings on the block were near collapse and seriously threatened adjacent buildings.
The City of Wichita purchased all of the block’s properties, except one in private ownership, at a sheriff’s auction. At that time, there were 40 permanent residential tenants and nine commercial shops in the block. The condition of the Eaton Hotel rooms, for the most part, was deplorable. The city closed down a portion of the hotel that had severe sewer problems and relocated the existing tenants to acceptable rooms in other parts of the hotel. In addition, knowing that the city council’s goal was to redevelop the block, city staff quickly went to work relocating the Eaton Hotel residents into better accommodations (with affordable rents) and assisting residents in securing employment and social services. To facilitate the process of developer selection, a “blue ribbon” citizens’ task force was assembled by the city council to undertake a national search for a redeveloper with expertise in quality historic redevelopment. Simultaneously, the city conducted structural and architectural studies of the condition of the properties. In 1998, MetroPlains Development, LLC, St. Paul, Minnesota, was unanimously selected by the city council as the preferred developer based upon their reputation for quality redevelopment of similar properties. It was determined that the block would become a mixed-use project consisting of 115 apartments and 30,000 sq. feet of commercial/retail uses. The city was also able to negotiate the purchase of the one privately owned building so that the entire block could be redeveloped as one project. The Eaton Place development, the largest historic redevelopment project in Kansas during 2001, saved the last contiguous historic block of buildings from original 1887 Wichita. Every building fronting the block is historic and the Eaton Hotel is a National Register listed property.
Eaton Place is a mixed-use federal historic tax credit redevelopment project encompassing one square block. The financing package for the $15.6 million project was the most diverse and complicated ever undertaken by the City of Wichita. The Eaton, Wichita, and Bowers hotels, along with three two-story commercial buildings, were converted into 75 residential apartments and 30,000 square feet of commercial space. To add economic viability, a new six-story tower with 40 apartments and a two-level parking garage was constructed on the back half of the block, bringing the total to 115 apartments. The mixed-use development is further supported with on-site surface parking, office/retail spaces, and a pedestrian arcade.