Politics & Government

County may rename former IRS building downtown after Ronald Reagan

A resolution the Sedgwick County Commission will consider Tuesday would name the former IRS building at 271 W. Third St. the Ronald Reagan Building after the 40th U.S. president. Several joint city-county departments are moving into the building this month.
A resolution the Sedgwick County Commission will consider Tuesday would name the former IRS building at 271 W. Third St. the Ronald Reagan Building after the 40th U.S. president. Several joint city-county departments are moving into the building this month. File photo

Sedgwick County may rename the former IRS building downtown after former President Ronald Reagan.

A resolution the commission will consider Tuesday would name the six-floor building the Ronald Reagan Building after the 40th U.S. president. Several joint city-county departments are moving into the building at 271 W. Third St. this month.

“President Reagan’s leadership and core values represent the ideals of … Kansas and Sedgwick County,” according to the resolution. “The board of county commissioners of Sedgwick County wish to honor the memory of President Ronald Reagan.”

Commissioner Karl Peterjohn, who favors the resolution, has pushed to name something in the county after Reagan since he joined the commission in 2009.

“I had an interest in this for a whole variety of historical reasons,” Peterjohn said. “We ought to have something appropriately named.”

“To transform the IRS building into the Ronald Reagan building is a positive step,” he said.

Peterjohn says it could be the first facility in Kansas to be a part of the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, an initiative by the Grover Norquist-founded group Americans for Tax Reform to name buildings around the country after Reagan.

The resolution praises Reagan for economic and foreign policies during his administration, which lasted from 1981 to 1989.

“Reagan implemented policies, including economic pressure and diplomacy, that accelerated the end to the Cold War,” the resolution reads.

The resolution will be considered Tuesday during an evening commission meeting at the Sedgwick County Zoo’s Cargill Learning Center.

Building’s history

The county bought the building in 2014 for $4.9 million. Commissioners Jim Skelton, Dave Unruh and Tim Norton voted for the purchase. Peterjohn and Commissioner Richard Ranzau voted against it.

It’s been called the 271 Building since the purchase because of its address.

When Peterjohn and Ranzau became part of a new commission majority in 2015, that majority criticized the purchase and said renovating the building would cost too much.

The county looked for other buildings for its departments and was open to trading the building at one point.

Peterjohn, Norton and Unruh voted in November to accept a staff recommendation to decline all bids the county received. That meant the county decided to move into the 271 Building.

Ranzau and Chairman Jim Howell, who were critical of the way the building selection process was handled, voted against that staff recommendation.

Moving in

The Wichita Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Metropolitan Area Planning Department closed to the public on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, respectively. Both will open in their new location in the 271 Building on Monday, Sept. 12.

The Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department will close its offices on Seneca and in City Hall toward the end of the month. That department will open to the public again on Oct. 3.

“Customers who regularly have business with these three agencies will find the new facility more convenient and easier to access,” a county news release said.

A ribbon-cutting and open house is scheduled for Oct. 11.

Daniel Salazar: 316-269-6791, @imdanielsalazar

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