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Kingfisher sells: New owner catching flak

People upset building will not be restaurant

Managing editor

Gary Dunnigan of Wichita did not know what he was getting himself into when he and his wife purchased the former Kingfisher Steakhouse and Lounge at Marion County Lake.

Tampa State Bank, lien holder of the property, through a sheriff’s sale, purchased the property. The Wichita businessman then purchased it from the bank.

“I’ve been working with Kannady (local realtor, Charles Kannady of Kannady and Associates) on some sort of a lease deal,” Dunnigan said. He said he also had advertised in newspapers for someone interested in operating the facility as a restaurant.

“I had one call from my ad. The guy wanted to make it into a house,” he said, which is what Dunnigan is planning to do.

Unfortunately, as he began work on the structure this past week, lake residents and passers-by have expressed their disappointment that the building is being converted to a private residence.

“One woman came up to me and had tears in her eyes,” Dunnigan said.

Another encounter was not as pleasant with some people being rude. In all, more than 50 people have stopped and shared their concerns with the Wichita man.

“I understand people being attached to this property and want another restaurant but I couldn’t find anyone interested in leasing it as a restaurant,” Dunnigan said. “We made the effort.”

The property owner wondered if lake residents should have purchased the building themselves, as a home association. Then they could have controlled who purchased it and the purpose.

So, how did a Wichita business owner end up buying the property? Actually, the Dunnigans already own a lake house. He heard about the county lake, visited, and fell in love with the area.

When he heard about the former Kingfisher property, the Dunnigans purchased it for a retreat, where they could spend three or four days a week.

Since the purchase, exterior awnings have been removed, bushes trimmed, and a new roof installed. Plans include converting the restaurant into a three-bedroom and three and one-half bath home with a double-car garage. The original building had an upstairs, Dunnigan said, so plans also include a 650 square foot second story with a private entrance from an alley.

“The building is solid,” he said. “The construction was good.”

Dunnigan hopes people will understand that he is not purposely taking away a local landmark. The property was for sale and he bought it.

“It’s going to be an attractive home,” he said. “I just want people to understand I did all I could do to find someone to operate it as a restaurant.

“I feel like I’m stealing someone’s child,” Dunnigan said.

Last modified April 30, 2009

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