A new building is rising where the 133-year-old Sundstrom Building once stood on Main Street in Lindsborg.

 A new building is rising where the 133-year-old Sundstrom Building once stood on Main Street in Lindsborg.

The new $1.2 million building will be the home of the Sundstrom Conference Center.

After several years of trying to develop a historical renovation plan for the former retail space, the city, which owns the building, decided a new building on the site was more feasible and cost efficient, Gary Shogren, Lindsborg director of development, said.

City officials hope the center will be a benefit to the local economy, drawing in people to enjoy the city’s food, shopping and hotels.

“Seventy-five feet of Main Street is going to be back in use,” Shogren said. “We expect to see economic development benefits, as well as see a large increase in visitors for conferences, meetings, retreats and training. These people will see downtown for the first time and hopefully come back with their families. We think that will create economic growth. We are excited.”The first phase of the project will include a 3,500 square-foot banquet hall on the first floor with a central dance floor and space for up to 300 guests.

The first floor of the building also will include an entrance foyer, a catering kitchen, audio-visual equipment and restrooms capable of handling large groups. The building will be equipped with high-speed Internet access and a high-efficiency heating and cooling system.

The 9,300 square-foot second floor will remain undeveloped at this point. As the clientele for the center grows, the upstairs also will be renovated into conference center space, Shogren said.

Wiens Construction of Hutchinson started construction on the building in August, and completion is tentatively set for July.

The project is being funded through a special sales tax dedicated to economic development and infrastructure improvements that was passed in 2010.

The city anticipates hosting small conferences of 25 to 50 people at first, but hosting larger events as time goes on, Shogren said.

Lindsborg has limited hotel space at this time, and the construction of the conference center could mean more overnight stays for conference goers in McPherson and the surrounding communities, Shogren said.

Shogren said the city will retain ownership of the center once it is complete, but will likely contract for the center’s management. The city is actively looking for a manager at this time.

The historic Sundstrom Building

The old Sundstrom Building was removed from the Kansas Historic Register last year and was torn down in August.

The Sundstrom building was built in 1879 to house the Sundstrom Department Store, which was established by John G. Bergsten and Jacob O. Sundstrom, according to the Kansas Historical Society. Bergsten sold his interest in the business in 1884, but Sundstrom continued to operate the business until he died in 1926.

Other businesses that have occupied the building include a dry goods store, hardware store and dance studio.

City official estimated rehabbing the old property would have cost $4 million to $5 million.

Efforts are being made to make the exterior of the new building resemble the historic building.

Although Shogren said he and other city officials would have preferred preserving the old building, he said he was pleased with the progress and direction of the new conference center.

“I have been sitting here in city hall looking at this old vacant building,” he said. “Now I have a sense of downtown rebirth and revitalization.”

For more information on the center, call 785-227-3355 or email lindsborg@lindsborgcity.org.

Contact Cristina Janney at cristina.janney@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter @macsentinel.