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Surprised buyers imagining what to do with old motel

Staff writer

Paul Attwater had no intention of buying an out-of-business motel in Florence when he saw a real estate agent’s sign nearby and called to ask about a lot.

He was looking for a place to build a storage facility.

After finding out the price was reasonable enough, he then found out the old motel was included.

Thinking it over again, he thought the motel could be bulldozed and the storage facility built where the motel stood.

“I went over and looked at it,” Attwater said. “It was in better condition than I expected.”

Other possibilities came to mind.

“I thought about using it in relation to hunters,” he said.

A place where hunters could gather, a vacation spot for people who want to see the Flint Hills, a venue for events, several possibilities came to mind.

“You never know the people we might be able to bring to Florence,” he said. “Right now, it’s a lot of things to think about.”

One of the first things he did when he closed on the building was remove graffiti. Someone had defaced a window with the word “sin” in large letters.

His purchase of the building has pleased Florence residents.

When Attwater announced the purchase on a Florence social media page, Pamela Cook Oursler wrote: “I took care of the man’s mother that had purchased this a few years back. He had big dreams but sadly I think he got overwhelmed. So hoping for you all to bring back life to it and your dreams come true!”

Florence resident Bev Baldwin wrote: “So excited about this, already looks so much better!! Thank you, thank you, thank you! You are sitting on a gold mine, fabulous location for just about anything!! Born and raised in this town and this makes me very happy!”

The building itself is in solid condition, but many windows are broken, its 18 exterior doors need to be replaced, and the interior needs major renovation.

Squatters have clearly made themselves at home in the building. Some of the rooms contain mattresses on the floor with blankets, books on the bookshelves, old jugs half-full of separated milk, rundown baby equipment and toys strewn about, and other telltale signs of occupancy. On some doors, knobs have been completely removed.

“Right now it’s in the brainstorm and dumpster phase,” Attwater said.

His potential plans could change if the price tag turns out to be too high.

Although Attwater lives in Wichita, he has deep roots in the Florence, Marion, and Peabody area. His family, the DeForests, own the spring that supplies water to Florence. His grandfather, John DeForest, operated hatcheries in Peabody and Marion. He owns a cabin at the county lake.

He and friends will have a work day at the motel Saturday.

Last modified April 1, 2021

 

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