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City of Hutchinson About to Move on the Atrium

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By Lucky Kidd

 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Issues involving the former Atrium Hotel at 11th and K-61 are about to come to a head.

The Hutchinson City Council will be asked Tuesday July 2nd to set a show-cause public hearing for August 20th on whether the long-troubled hotel should be declared unsafe and dangerous, and the property ordered repaired or demolished.

City Manager Enrico Villegas said in a statement the safety and wellbeing of our community is their top priority, and the current state of the Atrium poses significant risks, and it is essential immediate action be taken to protect residents.

What is now known as the Atrium was built in the 1970’s as a Holiday Inn, and over the years it has operated under a number of names. The facility, to which a convention center was later added, closed in 2019 after a number of ownership changes and foreclosure actions.

Recent photo of the former Atrium Hotel building (Photo by the Foto Cowboy)

At various times, there have been suggestions the city purchase the property, on which it used transient guest tax revenues to add the convention facility and on which it had to spend significant sums of money in order for it to be usable during two USGA golf tournaments at Prairie Dunes Country Club.

The city has also expended funds to address immediate issues including painting of graffiti, boarding up doors and windows, and mowing of grass. There are currently 16 unpaid invoices for this work.

The most recent of those discussions came in 2021 and 2022, with the city making an offer on it at one point which would later be withdrawn with one City Council giving a very blunt objection to the city putting any more money into the property.

A recent inspection of the property by the city identified the following critical safety issues.

  • No running water since December 2019
  • The extensive vandalism of the building
  • a fire suppression system broken for over three years
  • Non-functional hearing and air conditioning units
  • Broken windows and doors
  • Presence of black mode, posing significant health risks.

The vandalism included removal of much of the copper wiring and piping within the building. In January 2021 four people were arrested after being found inside the building, which vehicles had reportedly been able to drive into.

The requested action of the Council Tuesday begins a process set out by state law before any eventual demolition can occur. Once the resolution setting the show-cause hearing has been adopted and published, there is a 40-day waiting period before the hearing can take place.

At the hearing property owners, agents or other interested parties can present evidence, and the building inspector will provide detailed findings regarding the property. Following that hearing the Council can order the issues abated within a set period of time, and if not done so the city can proceed with action it deems appropriate, including directing demolition.

If demolition is ordered and the owners do not pay for it, the city can place the charges onto property tax bills, and if those are not paid the property could end up being sold at a delinquent tax sale. 

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