New project in the works for Masonic Temple building

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By Tim McNicholas

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Updated: Mon, 20 Jan 2014 08:26:57 CST

Grand Island city planners feared they might have to demolish the old Masonic Temple.

The building was built in the 1920s, but has stood vacant for years.

A Grand Island landmark, it's 7 stories tall, sitting on a 50 by 50 footprint.

"So if you were to tear it down, you'd get about half a lot of property. That's not very useful," City Redevelopment Authority Director Chad Nabity said. 

Plans had been in place for a new upscale hotel in the building.

But, that fell through.

Now, it's back to the drawing board.

Owners are taking on a new project—

Tower 217.

Grand Island's City Redevelopment Authority isn't just breathing a sigh of relief...

They're dishing out a 292 thousand dollar grant.

"This is one that, I think, economically looks like it could work," Nabity said. 

Some of the changes that are taking place aren't just recommended, they're required. That's the stuff that the CRA is helping out with.

New sprinklers, a new staircase...

Once those things are taken care of they'll be able to move forward.

But those at the head of the project aren't too sure what those steps are.

Commercial, residential, or a mix of both...

That part is still up in the air.

"It's important that they see quality design, interesting atmosphere, and all of those things that draw people," one Grand Island resident said. 

Project Manager Amos Anson says he expects tenants in the building by this time next year.

Anson says each floor should take a few months of renovation.

He's been influential in other projects in Grand Island including the Chocolate Bar.

More information is available at Tower217.com

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