Shane Hays describes himself as a “guy who gets things done.” When he heard the building he calls the “Longhorn Building,” was likely going to be demolished, he knew he needed to do something.
The building at 109 S. Chestnut in Kimball was constructed in 1918 and has served as the home to several different businesses over the last 100 years. In recent years, it was the home to the Longhorn Restaurant.
“It was a bar at one point, and a hotel,” Hays said . “It used to be a brothel. It’s one of those types of buildings where you say, ‘If the walls could talk.’”
The building has been empty since at least 2012, according to Kimball City Administrator Dan Dean.
“The building was held in a trust that had no other assets,” Dean said. “The city had been attempting to have the owner/trust secure the building and address the hazardous/dangerous building conditions.”
Dean said the owners “made it clear” that they were not willing to address the issues or pay taxes on the property.
The city had limited options, said Dean. They could pursue the trust through the court system, but the city would likely still have to spend money to make basic repairs on top of legal fees.
“We could have waited a few years for it to go through the tax foreclosure process, at which time it would likely not be salvageable,” Dean said.
The city made the decision to take bids on the building.
“The last resort was to demolish the building,” Dean said. “The goal was to save the building and put it into productive use rather than having a gaping hole in downtown.”
That gaping hole would be right next to Hays’ office at 103 S. Chestnut.
“Having an empty lot next to my building that I’ve fixed up — it wouldn’t be good,” Hays said.
In addition to potentially being an eyesore, demolishing the building could come with other problems.
“They talked about plowing it down,” Hays said. “As a taxpayer in Kimball, if you blow it down, there will be no utilities paid on it and no taxes.”
Hays made a decision to bid on the building. He was the only one. The city agreed to give him the building and waive fees for dumping the debris that was inside.
“They’ve been really good to work with,” Hays said. “They want something good here.”
Hays said he’s received funding from the city, including a facade grant that will be used to freshen up the front of the building.
“The facade grant stuff — Kimball has amazing things going on right now for local businesses,” he said.
The city abated the mold and asbestos in the building, making it easier for Hays to do all the work he’d need to do — and there’s a lot of work to do.
“Everything in there will be new,” Hays said. “I’ve just gutted it down to the studs. When it’s all said and done, it’s going to take about $500,000 to get it ready.”
All of the plumbing and electric will be new. Old floors have been ripped out and piles of debris have been hauled off.
“I’ve taken 300 loads to the dump,” Hays said.
Recently, the Kimball Event Center was sold to new owners. The Kimball Fitness Center was located on the backside of the building, Hays said, but soon it’ll find a new home.
“I just acquired the fitness center, so that’s what I’m going to put into this building,” Hays said.
Currently, the fitness center doesn’t have a bathroom or many amenities of a modern gym, Hays said.
“This will have a locker room, shower facility and a tanning bed,” Hays said. “My plan is to also bring a massage therapist in.”
He said he hopes to have the fitness center open in the next three months.
Eventually, his wife, Haley, plans to open a boutique in the building and there will be apartments on the top floor as well.
Hays said he’s doing a lot of the work on the building, as well as contracting with local businesses as much as possible.
“I really wanted to keep things local to the Panhandle,” Hays said.
Hays calls himself a Kimball native, moving to the area in the second grade. He doesn’t live in Kimball, but his office is there and he wants his community to thrive.
“For me, this project is about establishing downtown,” he said. “I want to show life downtown.”
He praised the city's economic development efforts including the grant programs that have made the project possible. He hopes others will take advantage of the funds that are available.
“The city has a great grant program,” Hays said. “I hope this kind of has a trickle down effect.”