Garfield makeover

If the City Commission approves industrial revenue bonds for the transformation of the former Garfield Elementary School to senior housing the project could be complete by next year.

Plans to covert the former Garfield Elementary School into senior housing didn’t change much the past year, was only delayed, attorney Bob Johnson for Gilmore and Associates told the Abilene City Commission at a study session Monday.

“Those of you who have heard of the project before, you are not going to see anything much different,” Johnson said. “The product that we had intended to introduce in 2018 is still the project that we are going to introduce today.”

About the only change is the cost of phase one which is renovation of the current building that increased from $4.5 million to $5.

“What have we been doing for the past year and a half? Certainly not sitting on our hands,” he said.

He said Andy and Josh Gilmore, who attended the study session, had been working on coordinating a construction lender with that of an investment in historic tax credits.

The project is expected to receive both state and federal tax credits as Garfield is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“That is very challenging to pair up different parties that want to be on the same timeline for financing a project on similar terms that everyone can get into the boat together,” Johnson said. “It’s not just them and the lender. It’s not just them and the investor. It’s all the parties coming together to make the deal work.”


There are now two committed parties.

“They are barreling toward a closing on that financing within quarter four of 2019,” he said.

“It’s good to see some progress,” said Mayor Tim Shafer.

A request to the city commission is the issuance of industrial revenue bonds to exceed $10 million for the project.

The city commission approved the issuance industrial revenue bonds for the Garfield project on a 5-0 vote on April 23, 2018. However, since nine months have passed, the commission must renew the bonds again.

He said the transformation of Garfield is ready to go.

“It is an absolutely necessary critical need in this community. We all discussed that the last time we were here. In and around this region there is a need for high-quality senior living,” Johnson said.


The residential facility is designed for those 55 years of age and older. Planned are 16 one-bedroom units which will rent for $2,200 per month said Andy Gilmore. The three two-bedroom units will rent for $2,600 per month.

Plans are to preserve the exterior of the building, to restore the original doors of the rooms and to recreate the lighting that was in the gymnasium.

“The goal is to keep the historic feel,” Johnson said.

Garfield was opened in 1942 and closed in 2015 when Eisenhower Elementary School was opened.

“At the time that it closed, the school district wanted to identify a developer that wanted to make an adaptive reuse of the building and preserve some of its historic character,” Johnson said. “It’s such a unique, cool building.”

The bonds will be used for the first phase consisting of the renovation and rehabilitation of the Garfield School building, 300 N.W. Seventh Street, into 19 senior living independent units and related amenities and phase 2 is a future expansion of the facility on a vacant site east of the Garfield School building.

The first phase is expected to be completed next year.

Funds will be used for renovation, remodeling, construction, furnishing and equipping of a multi-phased senior independent living facility.

The city commission is expected to review the request at the Sept. 23 regular meeting.

In other business, the commission discussed extending the contract for Dennis Kissinger for consulting services until the end of the year.

Kissinger, a former interim city manager for Abilene, was hired in June when Jane Foltz was selected as interim city manager. Foltz is also the director of the Abilene Parks and Recreation Department.

The anticipated work schedule is between 1 and 2-1/2 days a week, being compensated at a rate of $320 per day or $160 for a half day.

The commission generally does not meet on a fifth Monday of a month but Foltz said a study session will be held on Sept. 30. The commission will not meet on Oct. 14 as commissioners will be attending the League of Kansas Municipalities annual conference on Oct. 13 and 14.

Contact Tim Horan at

Contact Tim Horan at

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