Local officials and stakeholders gather for a T-Mobile check presentation ceremony on March 24 in front of the future King City Visitor and History Center at 110 N. Vanderhurst Ave. The city plans to renovate the building, which will also include the King City Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture office. (Jon Allred/Staff)

KING CITY — City of King has been awarded $50,000 through T-Mobile’s Hometown Grants program to go toward the cost of renovating and remodeling a downtown building that will serve as a future visitor center and local history museum.

King City was one of 25 small towns nationwide to receive funding designated to jumpstart vital community development projects. 

Local officials and stakeholders, along with representatives from T-Mobile, gathered on March 24 to celebrate the grant during a check presentation ceremony in front of the King City Visitor and History Center project site at 110 N. Vanderhurst Ave.

“We are extremely appreciative to T-Mobile for this grant to complete our Visitor and History Center project,” said Mayor Mike LeBarre. “It will represent the culmination of our downtown revitalization efforts, generate pride and education throughout the community by promoting our rich local history, and will provide important economic development benefits by welcoming visitors to our community.”

King City officials and stakeholders gather with representatives from T-Mobile for the March 24 check presentation ceremony at the future King City Visitor and History Center building. (Jon Allred/Staff)

The City of King plans to renovate the existing blighted building — originally built in 1931 as The Rustler newspaper office — to become the new Visitor and History Center. King City Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture will relocate its office in the facility and operate the visitor center, which will serve as a welcoming center for tourists.

“King City Chamber of Commerce is pleased to partner with the City of King on the Visitor and History Center project and is extremely thankful to T-Mobile for this grant to help make the project possible,” said Chamber Manager Janet Bessemer. “The project will build community pride and be part of an important economic development effort designed to support existing, and stimulate new, local businesses. Helping small businesses is particularly important now due to the impacts of the pandemic and is a critical goal in King City to create job growth to help those in need in our community.”

The castle-like building, located in the heart of downtown adjacent to the new Downtown Plaza, will also feature a “mini-museum” area for the public and historical archives for local researchers. According to City Manager Steve Adams, the visitor center is a “key component of the overall downtown revitalization effort.”

Renderings of the King City Visitor and History Center, located adjacent to the new Downtown Plaza site. (Jon Allred/Staff)

Launched in April 2021, T-Mobile Hometown Grants is a $25 million, five-year initiative to support the people and organizations who help small towns across America thrive and grow by providing funding to kickstart important new community development projects. The grants are given every quarter to up to 25 communities with a population of fewer than 50,000 residents.

“Since we launched T-Mobile Hometown in April 2021, the Un-carrier has given more than $3.3 million to support projects that are strengthening economic opportunity in small towns in 35 states and it’s been amazing to see how local leaders and businesses are using these funds to transform their communities,” said Jon Freier, president, Consumer Group at T-Mobile, in a March 24 announcement. “Today, we’re honored to add another 25 small towns to the list of communities we support, and we look forward to announcing 25 more every quarter through 2026.”

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Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for South Monterey County and the surrounding communities.


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