Thursday, 04 November 2010 14:37
By Doug Weller
SALINA — The Salina business community was looking ahead when it helped support a new Catholic college a century ago.
Architect Donnie Marrs likes to think he’s doing the same with the continued development of Marymount College’s signature building, opened in 1922.
The business community in Salina, Marrs explained, not only contributed the land but raised more than $50,000 to encourage the sisters to build in Salina.
Marrs and his son Dahx announced Monday they are ready to begin selling residential condominium units in the college’s former administration building. That has been his plan since he purchased the building from the Diocese of Salina in 1993.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia opened Marymount as a girls’ academy and women’s college and later as a co-educational college. The sisters turned it over to the Salina Diocese in 1983 because they no longer had the staff or resources to operate it. The diocese closed the college in 1989, prompted by mounting expenses and the inability to raise $5 million for an endowment.
Marrs’ plan calls for the construction of 22 condominiums in the south wing. Another 13 could be created in the north wing, most of which has been leased for commercial use. The Marrs family has lived in the central tower of the building the past 18 years.
“It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a piece of this building,” Donnie Marrs said. The project, he added, would “help perpetuate the life of this building.”
He called his eventual investment in the residential development, about $2.5 million, a “leap of faith” similar to what the sisters did when starting the college.
The condominiums will be from 1,000 to 1,500 square feet in size, Donnie Marrs said, although early buyers would have the opportunity to pick the locations and sizes.
The unfinished space will sell for between $95 and $125 per square foot, he said. Buyers would pay to finish the interiors to their specifications. In addition, they would need to purchase parking space in an underground garage to be constructed beneath the sunken garden immediately west of the building. Construction of the garage will begin once sufficient units are purchased.
A 1,000-square-foot unit, Marrs explained, would cost $95,000 to purchase, at the lowest price, and possibly another $50,000 to finish, depending on the owner’s preferences. Each parking space would cost $25,000. The total for that residence, with two parking spaces, would be $195,000.
Monthly condominium fees would cover utilities and insurance and property taxes on the building, which he estimated at $3 to $3.50 per square foot a year, or about $300 a month.
The building will have new windows; new water, gas, sewage and electrical service; secured parking and entrance; and use of other parts of the building, including the gymnasium, a roof garden and the surrounding grounds, Marrs added.
The condominiums will qualify for the city’s Neighborhood Revitalization Program, which rebates property taxes on the improvements.
Marrs explained that the owner’s $50,000 investment to finish the interior of the sample 1,000-square-foot unit would be exempt from 100 percent of the property tax for five years and then 50 percent for another five years.
Dahx Marrs said inquiries about purchasing units have come from alumni of the college and from people who live and work in the downtown area.
“The demolition is complete. We’re ready to build spaces for people who want to live here,” he said.
Almost all of the material being removed will be recycled, he noted. Wood trim will be refinished and installed as new floor plans are developed. The original wood floors will be refinished and the intricate tile floors will be preserved.
The buildings’s Chapel of the Immaculate Conception also is being preserved and has been off limits to development and commercial use, Donnie Marrs noted.