First National Bank purchases Fox Pavilion at auction


First National Bank of Hays became the owner of a historic piece of downtown Hays when its president purchased Fox Pavilion at a sheriff's auction Tuesday morning.

More than 30 people gathered around the steps of Ellis County Courthouse's second floor for the auction that lasted less than three minutes from start to finish.

Allen Schaper, president of First National Bank, gave Sheriff Ed Harbin his bid of $430,000, a bid which was the first and last of the auction.

It was "the quickest auction I ever went to," said Patty Stull, owner and broker of Coldwell Executive Realty, who has served as listing agent on the property.

With plans to sell Fox Pavilion, Schaper said, the bank is "not in the business of owning property" and will proceed with marketing the property after the sale is finalized.

Upcoming events, including a wedding this weekend, continue to be booked, and it is anticipated to remain a busy venue throughout the summer, according to Manager Lynn Schmeidler.

Fox Theater was built in 1950 and renovated in the early 1980s. After the theater closed in 1999 due to an expansion of The Mall Theater, the city of Hays acquired the Fox in 2003 for $1.

"It was never the commission's intent to operate the facility," City Manager Randy Gustafson was quoted as saying in a Nov. 6, 2005, Hays Daily News article. "It was intended to be a pass-through kind of thing, that a group or someone could take up from the city and utilize it for some purpose."

Several nonprofit organizations examined the facility; however, none could raise the funding to make it a viable option. The facility then sold at public auction March 28, 2006, for $101,000 to entrepreneur Brooks Kellogg.

Renovation of the building, estimated at $500,000 and managed by Dave Van Doren, returned it to its original one-theater configuration with ground-level bathrooms and restorations of its original murals and color schemes.

The facility received the Governor's Award of Excellence on Main Street in 2007 and the Emerging and Existing Business Award in 2008 from the Kansas Small Business Development Center.

According to court documents, 1202 Main LLC failed to make installment payments as they became due since Sept. 10, 2010. There are no delinquent property taxes due on the property, according to Ellis County Treasurer Mickey Billinger.

Kellogg is serving six years in federal prison for traveling in interstate commerce in commission of murder-for-hire.

On Oct. 19, 2010, after flying from Minneapolis, Minn., and arriving at Denver International Airport, Kellogg met with an FBI agent acting in an undercover capacity, court documents said.

Kellogg paid the undercover agent $2,000 in cash to murder a Florida man with whom he was involved in a real estate transaction that resulted in civil court litigation. Kellogg already had paid an additional $6,000 for the hit, the documents said.

The Florida man had sued Kellogg, obtaining a multi-million-dollar judgment.