Potter Block, the future site of Hotel Garber
Potter Block, Future Site of Hotel Garber

Potter Block Rehabilitation Reaches Fundraising Milestones

Hotel Garber is Becoming a Reality

Plans to rehabilitate the historic Potter Block in Red Cloud into a charming boutique hotel and event space have reached significant fundraising milestones in recent weeks. News of a $2.3 million Shovel-Ready Capital Recovery & Investment Act grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and an allocation of $1,000,000 in Nebraska Historic Tax Credits from History Nebraska has made it feasible to move ahead with the next phase of construction. Additionally, an allocation of $20,000 in Community Development Assistant Act (CDAA) tax credits will enable the Department of Economic Development to distribute a 40% state tax credit to businesses, corporations, insurance firms, financial institutions, and individuals that make eligible cash contributions to the project.

In early 2020, basement excavation and underpinning prepared the Potter Block building to support the eventual return of a third floor that was lost to fire in 1961 in a forward-looking effort to return the building to its original splendor. Planning and fundraising efforts have continued since that time, and over $3 million in donations and investments has been secured, bringing total funds secured from all sources to over $6 million.

When rehabilitation is complete, the Potter Block will grow from a 16,500 square foot facility to a 22,500 square foot facility. The building will house event and meeting space, catering facilities, a small lending library, artwork and historic images on exhibit, and guest rooms for overnight stays. When developed and conjoined to the National Willa Cather Center’s Farmers and Merchants Bank next door, the buildings will become a mixed-use facility, including gallery and exhibit areas and space for historic site tours that will highlight connections to Red Cloud’s history and Willa Cather’s life and writing.

The project is a key priority for the National Willa Cather Center’s Campaign for the Future and Red Cloud’s Heritage Tourism Development Office, which launched in 2015 through a collaboration between the National Willa Cather Center, City of Red Cloud, Chamber of Commerce, and Red Cloud Community Fund of the Nebraska Community Foundation. The Heritage Tourism Development Office was created as a result of an economic development study commissioned by the Red Cloud Community Fund that illustrated significant expansion of local lodging options, an increased number and variety of dining options, and an expansion of customized services and retail could result in 3,500 visitor couples from outside the area spending multiple days in Red Cloud. With visitors spending an average of $1,000 per couple per trip, this could mean $3.5 million of new economic activity, which could lead to an economic impact on Red Cloud of nearly $6 million per year.

About Hotel Garber

Hotel Garber will be a 26-room boutique hotel in downtown Red Cloud. The facility will help achieve tourism development and downtown revitalization goals by rehabilitating the Potter Block building, a 1901 structure that has been vacant and decaying for over twenty years. The hotel’s name is a nod to Silas Garber, a founder of Red Cloud, the third Governor of Nebraska, and prototype for Captain Forrester in Willa Cather’s A Lost Lady. When fully restored, the building will provide much-needed lodging for tourists and expanded meeting facilities for events and retreats. It will allow visitors to the National Willa Cather Center to stay longer to enjoy the museum, the historic sites, the town, the Cather Prairie, and other scenic places Cather loved. In the first ten years of operation, Hotel Garber is projected to add up to ten new jobs and generate $6.7 million in revenue and $800,000 in sales and lodging taxes. Construction is projected to be complete in the spring of 2024. Design services were provided by Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture of Omaha, Nebraska.

How You Can Help

Please consider supporting the project with a charitable gift. Naming and recognition opportunities are available, and pledges are payable over a 5-year period. Contributions may be mailed to the Willa Cather Foundation, 413 N. Webster St., Red Cloud, NE, 68970. Donations may also be made online.

For Further Reading