INSIDE: Hear from four visionaries who saw area's potential
See architectural rendering of downtown, area
Learn which restaurant will open where Kansan Grill once stood
Meet mainstays that persevered through bad years
All content reported and written by Morgan Chilson n Section designed by Stewart Cole
2E | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | The Topeka Capital-Journal
THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL
From left, Michael Wilson, Neil Dobler, Mark Burenheide and Mike Morse have been undivided in their support for downtown revitalization.
FOR The Topeka Capital-Journal took five questions to four downtown leaders who have been part of the revitalization process as city leaders, visionaries and businessmen: Michael Wilson, a downtown investor and architect at Architect One; Neil Dobler, a former city of Topeka Public Works director and now a planner with Bartlett & West; Mike Morse, a partner in KS Commercial Real Estate Services Inc.; and developer Mark Burenheide, a trust officer at Capital City Bank. What do you think is the driving force behind downtown revitalization? Morse: The driving force behind downtown revitalization is an evergrowing group of people that love Topeka and believe in making Topeka an even better place to live. Our major employers need to be able to recruit new and young talent from the great universities in our area. When I travel to other communities, I don’t ask to dine at the nearest chain restaurant or shop at the Best Buy in that town. I want dining/shopping/entertainment that is unique to the area I am visiting and is locally owned and locally operated. Why are you involved with downtown revitalization? Dobler: I have been involved in the infrastructure side of Topeka for many years and have seen the migration of folks from the center of the city to the outskirts. We have reached a point where our ability to provide adequate services, primarily water and wastewater, is being maxed out
Visionaries point to next generation stepping into leadership roles
without building additional, and extremely expensive, treatment facilities. At the same time, we are abandoning blocks and blocks of property in the downtown that already has critical infrastructure in place. We simply cannot, as a community, afford to continue this pattern, and it begins with a rehabilitated core and reasons for people to be downtown. What was the “tipping point” for downtown revitalization? Did something change that years of talk and planning finally came together to create the forward push we see now? Dobler: When the discussion went from “can the city pay for all of it” to the public-private partnership with the city funding the infrastructure and the private sector funding the above-ground amenities, the tipping point happened. Burenheide: I think the decisionmakers realized that in order for Topeka to be an attractive place for young families and millennials, Topeka needs a strong urban core that is truly a “people place.” Wilson: Several factors, but I will single out a few: individual investments by Clayton Financial, Capitol Federal, 900 Kansas LLC and Gizmo’s seemed to jump-start interest. Creation of the Downtown Topeka Foundation then became the catalyst for others to follow. Important individuals include Vince Frye, Mike Morse, Scott Gales and Neil Dobler, who have been key players in leading the way. Morse: I have a list of building blocks along the way, and I am cer-
tain to forget some of the landmark moments as we have been pursuing this revitalization since 2002. Those include the chamber’s intercity visit program; the creation of Heartland Visioning; 2008 community meetings about downtown; Capitol Federal committing to staying downtown and investing more than $18 million in its headquarters; forming the Downtown Topeka Foundation; Capitol Federal Foundation’s lead donation of
“ ... The indoor retail mall is dead. There has not been an indoor mall built in America in five years. People want outdoor spaces that attract people. That same concept already exists downtown.”
— Mark Burenheide
$500,000 toward the beautification of Kansas Avenue; and major gifts from numerous businesses to raise more than $3 million in private dollars. How can this energy be sustained, and what will be the next challenges? Dobler: A lot of the energy is coming from the next generation that is stepping into leadership positions in this community. That energy, combined with some wisdom from those of us that have been at this for years, is a pretty unstoppable force. The next challenges are many — down-
town residential development, a downtown grocery store and expanding the redevelopment outside of the Kansas Avenue project. A huge success for us will be moving a large company or company headquarters downtown. Burenheide: Continue to develop every nook and cranny downtown. The indoor retail mall is dead. There has not been an indoor mall built in America in five years. People want outdoor spaces that attract people. That same concept already exists downtown. We just have to use our strengths and continue to develop our unique qualities that exist downtown. Wilson: I believe connecting the downtown with the southern bank of the Kansas River, even if only as a recreational area, is the next big step. Expanding the district beyond the current four blocks will increase opportunities. Bringing in the new Cyrus Hotel will be a huge step forward and will hopefully bring in additional retail and housing units. Morse: The most important next step is for the city and the county to provide programming dollars for activities, events, entertainment and staff support of Downtown Topeka Inc. What mix of business is needed for downtown to be successful? Dobler: I don’t know that anyone knows the exact formula. This version of the Kansas Avenue project started with a group that was tasked with figuring out how to get more office space downtown — we quickly realized that there wasn’t a need for more office space, but to fill the space that already existed. I think it becomes a combination of things — residential living space, amenities like grocery stores, medical offices and pharmacies, in addition to restaurants and bars. A great step — and one we have seen in other places — would be to have Washburn (University) establish a presence downtown. Burenheide: Businesses and activities that attract people. Restaurants are obvious, but it will also be necessary to add items such as movie theaters, IMAX theater, live theater and youth sports facilities. Basically, things that make downtown a destination point. Downtown needs to be an area where people come for an event and then stick around for dinner and/ or entertainment. *The men were in agreement on many issues, so selected answers best summarized the group’s thoughts. Full answers can be found online.
The Topeka Capital-Journal | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | 3E
THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL
The site of the former Kansan Grill at 705 S. Kansas Ave. will house a restaurant led by Cody Foster, who is bringing the Cyrus Hotel to downtown Topeka. The restaurant will be an upscale American grill.
Bret Springs, left, and Zach Marten co-founded Back Napkin Restaurant Group. Working with Topeka investor Cody Foster, they plan to open a new restaurant downtown.
Upscale American grill to open downtown Restaurant has backing of Cyrus Hotel investor, popular Kansas City chef A new restaurant concept, described as upscale American grill, is coming to S. Kansas Avenue, led by Cyrus Hotel owner Cody Foster. Co-owner Zach Marten, of Back Napkin Restaurant Group, said AIM Strategies, the development partnership formed by Foster, is the main investor in the restaurant that will open in 2017. Although it doesn’t have a name yet, Foster said the plan is to open the grill at 705 S. Kansas Ave., the former location of the Kansan Grill. The building requires a lot of demolition and work because it had flooded — the basement was full of water, he said — but that work should start soon. The goal is to be open in the first or second quarter of 2017, Foster said. Marten and Back Napkin co-founder Bret Springs, who lives in the Kansas City area, bring extensive experience to the new Topeka restaurant. They began their restaurant careers in 2008 through ownership of a Mr. Goodcents in Dallas. But they were Kansas natives — Springs from Leawood and Marten from McPherson — so they came home in 2010 to open Coal Vines, a pizza and wine concept on the
Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo. Since then, they have opened RND Corner Grill on Massachusetts Street in Lawrence and will open a second upscale American grill, which doesn’t yet have a name, in June in the Crossroads in Kansas City, Mo., Marten said. Foster is an investor in both of those restaurants. In addition, they own Westport Ale House in Kansas City, Mo., which doesn’t fall under their Back Napkin umbrella, Marten said. The Topeka restaurant will be similar to the RND Corner Grill concept, he said, and Foster raved about the food at that location. “It’ll just blow people away,” Foster said. “Our chef is a stud. He opened Graham & Dun on the Plaza, and from there went to the Capital Grille and was the executive chef.” Marten said they are excited about being part of downtown’s revitalization. “We’re very interested in that market, and it’s really solely based on the commitment that the city has made to revitalizing downtown, as well as Cody taking a really leading role in putting real money into the downtown,” he said, adding that other in-
vestors putting in “real money” affected their decision as well. “We felt like the resurgence will come — and we want to be on the front end of that,” Marten said. Coming into an area that has potential but isn’t quite there yet means using different marketing strategies, Marten said. “We know that this is going to be a challenge, really from day one,” he said. “It is going to take a strong, strategic marketing plan for us to get the bodies that we need downtown there, but we feel confident that the city itself, along with the other entrepreneurs and leaders that are leading the charge down there, we’ll all kind of band together to help everybody out and play off of each other. Especially at the beginning, it isn’t so much a fear of competition. “It’s more (about) trying to get as many people down there and as involved and engaged as possible. Then you worry about competition a few years down the line.” Marten said he and Springs are challenged by the design issues downtown. “I think it lends to the atmosphere. Restaurant design is a fun thing — that’s what Bret and I really enjoy doing. We get
a thrill out of designing the restaurants, more even than operating the restaurants,” he said. “You have to play off those kind of quirks that each one has, and incorporate those into the concepts. Those buildings are old down there, and that’s the one thing you can’t buy. It excites us to be able to go into old spaces and fit a restaurant into the existing space.” Foster said the former Kansan Grill building will be an excellent location and also has the benefit of two spaces in the basement, the former Pore Richard’s Cafe, that can be used as meeting spaces. “That building sets up for just a great restaurant. We probably won’t configure it completely like it was before,” he said. “They’re (Zach and Bret) probably a little hesitant, because they don’t see the traffic down there either. I think if you build a great spot, we’ll be fine, and we’ll market through some of that. The opportunity we have is that really huge, full basement. “What we want to do is turn it into two private event spaces down there, where you could do events, meetings, stuff like that. I think we’ll do well with that, too.”
4E | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | The Topeka Capital-Journal
CEO: Attracting young professionals is key Entertainment venues must follow infrastructure improvements Reasons to renovate downtown Topeka vary significantly depending on whom you ask. The Topeka Capital-Journal asked Mark Ruelle, president and CEO of one of Topeka’s top employers and a longtime downtown business. Although Westar Energy is in the process of being acquired by Great Plains Energy, the sale agreement keeps Westar’s offices downtown. Ruelle will remain in his position until the sale closes in 2017. Here’s what he had to say about downtown. Why should we revitalize downtown Topeka? I don’t think we have a choice. The alternative, to me, is just unthinkable. If we don’t create a modern, attractive quality of life for young people, our community disappears, long after it degrades. I’m a good example. I have three adult children. None of them live here. Does downtown Topeka affect your recruiting abilities as a company? Of course. We’re not alone. A large part of our workforce is aging baby boomers like myself. As we’re retiring, we’re recruiting younger folks, principally younger folks, and some mid-career. Their biggest issue is quality of life. When I grew up, the thought was you find a job and then you move to where the job is. That’s not what a lot of young people do today. They say, figure out where you want to live and then find a job there. On the other hand, Mrs. Ruelle and I came here 30 years ago because there was a good job here. We’ve chosen Topeka twice. What spurred downtown revitalization this time around? We (Ruelle’s family) came here first 30 years ago as the commercial transition away from downtown was probably at its nadir. The sister city visits that Go Topeka has sponsored, they’ve let us see that we’re not alone, not unique and we’re certainly not in an intractable situation. These things go in cycles, about 30 to 40 years. What positive changes do you see? We’ve got new and pleasing infrastructure. You’ve got, particularly among young people, young professionals — they’re interested in LOLO — locally owned, locally operated. You’ve got people who have
THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL
Mark Ruelle, president and chief executive officer of Westar Energy, says the biggest issue in recruiting younger employees is quality of life. Ruelle says revitalizing downtown has been essential for Topeka. put their money where their mouth is and stepped up for some residential development downtown. You’ve got a downtown hotel. I just think there’s a lot going in the right direction. I’ll be the first to admit — it is fragile, and we need to nurture it. There’s no organization, no community, I don’t think any relationship, (that) can improve if the negative and the cynical voices get more airtime than the positive and encouraging ones. We’ve got a lot of positive going, but we have to nurture it. Anytime there’s a renovation, a cycle or a renaissance, there’s going to be steps forward and one step back. We can’t relish in those failures. What kind of timeline do you see downtown? It’s a long-term thing. I don’t know if
downtown Topeka will be all it can be in my career, even in my lifetime, but every one of us can make it better tomorrow than it is today. That’s my source of optimism about this. I’m old school. If I didn’t plant the tree 30 years ago, a good second time to plant it is this morning.
we’re going to actually have to train people to sort of enjoy their new downtown — let them know it’s OK to have fun here, where you can relax and enjoy it. Two generations now have been brought up with the idea that this isn’t the place to go or the place you stay after work.
What mix of businesses do you see downtown to achieve success? You’ve got to have entertainment venues. You’ve got to have regular places to eat, good and exciting and different and vibrant. You’ve got to have entertainment (events), whether those be regular ones or even sort of uncertain periodic ones. Here’s the problem with long cycles. People have been trained to get in their car and leave after work, instead of saying, ‘Hey, let’s meet some friends for some drinks.’ I think
Anything you’d like to add? I guess the other thing that I’ve noticed, particularly in the last few years, is we really have a more well-functioning set of local government. The fact that private individuals have put their money where their mouth is alongside our elected officials to make this happen, I’ve really got to take my hat off to the voters in this community and (everyone). Everybody’s got a different role, but we’ve got the same mission.
The Topeka Capital-Journal | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | 5E
6E | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | The Topeka Capital-Journal
1. Architect One
906 S. Kansas Ave. Owner(s)/CEO: Michael Wilson, Scott Gales Established: 1988 No. of Employees: 9 Valuation: $3,624,800 Primary Line of Business: Architecture and Design
2. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway
920 S.E. Quincy St. Owner(s)/CEO: Carl R. Ice Established: 1996 No. of Employees: 950+ Valuation: N/A Primary Line of Business: Railroad & Freight
3. Brimanâ€™s Leading Jewelers
734 S. Kansas Ave. Owner(s)/CEO: Rob Briman & Debbie Latta Established: 1940 No. of Employees: 5 Valuation: $95,500 Primary Line of Business: Jewelry
7. Fidelity State Bank
600 S. Kansas Ave. Owner(s)/CEO: Allan Towle, CEO; Anderson Chandler, owner Established: 1922 No. of Employees: 35 Valuation: $629,800 Primary Line of Business: Banking and finance
10. Heartland Visioning
120 S.E. 6th Ave. #110 Owner(s)/CEO: Miriam Krehbiel, chairwoman Established: 2008 No. of Employees: 2.5 Valuation: $402,500 Primary Line of Business: Cultivate growth in Topeka
11. Mize Houser & Co.
534 S. Kansas Ave., #400 Owner(s)/CEO: 19 shareholder-owners Established: 1956 No. of Employees: 170+ Valuation: $9,421,800 Primary Line of Business: Finance & Company management
8. Go Topeka
120 S.E. 6th Ave., #110 Owner(s)/CEO: Matt Pivarnik Established: 2000 No. of Employees: 10 Valuation: N/A Primary Line of Business: Cultivating growth in Topeka
9. Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce 120 S.E. 6th Ave., #110 Owner(s)/CEO: Matt Pivarnik Established: 1880 No. of Employees: 10 Valuation: N/A Primary Line of Business: Welfare of citizens & community
4. Capitol Federal Savings Bank
700 S. Kansas Ave. Owner(s)/CEO: John Dicus Established: 1893 No. of Employees: 300+ Valuation: $7,298,900 Primary Line of Business: Banking and finance
5. Vision Bank
712 S. Kansas Ave. Owner(s)/CEO: Gary Yager Established: N/A No. of Employees: N/A Valuation: $1,481,700 Primary Line of Business: Banking and finance
12. Sprout Communications
728 S. Kansas Avenue, #200 Owner(s)/CEO: Caleb D. Asher Established: 2013 No. of Employees: 4 Valuation: $124,500 Primary Line of Business: Mar promotion
8 10 9 4 5 14 15 12 3
6. Ramada Hotel & Convention Center
420 S.E. 6th Ave. Owner(s)/CEO: Jim Parrish No. of Employees: N/A Established: N/A Valuation: $8,441,000 Primary Line of Business: Hospitality
Special appreciation goes to Scott Gales, Michael Wilson, One, for providing the architectural renderings used thro
The sponsors featured on these two pages helped make production of this publication possible.
Azura Credit Union
1129 S. Kansas Ave. Owner(s)/CEO: Greg Winkler Established: 2016 No. of Employees: N/A Valuation: $863,300 Primary Line of Business: Banking and finance
Bartlett & West
1200 S.W. Executive Drive Owner(s)/CEO: Keith Warta Established: 1951 No. of Employees: 170 Valuation: $3,731,600 Primary Line of Business: Engineering and technology
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas
Capital City Bank
Downtown Topeka Inc.
1133 S.W. Topeka Blvd. Owner(s)/CEO: Andrew C. Corbin Established: 1942 No. of Employees: 1,487 Valuation: $10,054,100 Primary Line of Business: Insurance
3710 S.W. Topeka Blvd. Owner(s)/CEO: Bob Kobbeman Established: 1985 No. of Employees: 100 Valuation: $695,430 Primary Line of Business: Banking and finance
1109 S.W. Wanamaker Road Owner(s)/CEO: Patrick J. Esser, president Established: 2000 (in KS) No. of Employees: 1,100 (in Kansas) Valuation: $621,800 Primary Line of Business: Communication provider
515 S. Kansas Ave. Owner(s)/CEO: Vince Frye Established: 1964 No. of Employees: 2.5 Valuation: $2,624,700 Primary Line of Business: Promote downtown Topeka
The Topeka Capital-Journal | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | 7E
13. Topeka Capital-Journal
rketing and brand
616 S.E. Jefferson Owner(s)/CEO: Zach Ahrens, president/publisher Established: 1858 No. of Employees: 90 Valuation: $2,823,900 Primary Line of Business: Print and digital news reporting and marketing
14. US Bank
719 S. Kansas Ave. Owner(s)/CEO: Richard K. Davis Established: 1850 No. of Employees: N/A Valuation: $2,944,600 Primary Line of Business: Banking and Finance
15. Clayton Financial Services
716 S. Kansas Ave. Owner(s)/CEO: Debra & Randy Clayton Established: 1984 No. of Employees: 14 Valuation: $753,200 Primary Line of Business: Advising and Finance
16. Westar Energy
818 S. Kansas Ave. Owner(s)/CEO: Mark Ruelle Established: 1992 No. of Employees: 2,400+ Valuation: N/A Primary Line of Business: Electricity provider
, Andrew Wiechen and Ramin Mahmoudian, of Architect oughout this special section.
Federal Home Loan Bank 1 S.W. Security Benefit Place, #100 Owner(s)/CEO: Andrew J. Jetter Established: 1932 No. of Employees: N/A Valuation: $35,070,350 Primary Line of Business: Banking and finance
1035 S.W. Topeka Blvd. Owner(s)/CEO: Charlie Chandler Established: 1876 No. of Employees: 8 Valuation: $617,800 Primary Line of Business: Banking and finance
Kansas Commercial Real Estate Services
435 S. Kansas Ave. Owner(s)/CEO: Steve Wieser, Mike Morse, Ed Eller, Mark Rezac Established: 1996 No. of Employees: 11 Valuation: $383,600 Primary Line of Business: Commercial real estate
4235 S.W. Burlingame Road Owner(s)/CEO: Matt Strathman Established: 1939 No. of Employees: 42 Valuation: $6,409,490 Primary Line of Business: Food & beverage distribution
Mars Chocolate North America
Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library
100 S.W. Mars Blvd. Owner(s)/CEO: Tracey Massey Established: 1911 No. of Employees: N/A Valuation: $49,384,940 Primary Line of Business: Sales and food manufacturing
Schwerdt Design Group
2231 S.W. Wanamaker Road, #303 Owner(s)/CEO: Greg Schwerdt Established: 1998 No. of Employees: 22 Valuation: $1,185,000 Primary Line of Business: Architecture and design
1515 S.W. 10th Ave. Owner(s)/CEO: Gina Millsap Established: 1870 No. of Employees: 190 Valuation: $17,254,390 Primary Line of Business: Public services
1700 S.W. College Ave. Owner(s)/CEO: Jerry Farley, president Established: 1865 No. of Employees: 857 Valuation: $78,394,410 Primary Line of Business: Higher education
8E | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | The Topeka Capital-Journal
Some businesses led through lean, green times Wolfe's, Briman's, Topeka Blueprint among those stalwart for decades In the ebb and flow of Topeka’s downtown landscape, a few businesses have dropped anchor and stayed, even as the capital city’s retail center shifted away.
Briman’s Leading Jewelers
photographs by THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL
Rob Briman, co-owner of Briman’s Leading Jewelers, says an evolution has occurred in downtown Topeka in recent years.
Briman’s Leading Jewelers has been in business in downtown Topeka for 75 years and in its current location for 52 years.
A third-generation business, Briman’s Leading Jewelers opened in Topeka in 1940. Today, Rob Briman operates the family business in the heart of downtown Topeka, at 734 S. Kansas Ave. “My grandfather came to Topeka in about 1910 and started a family and started a business on Kansas in the 500 block,” Briman said. “He was in the business longer than just the 75 years that we claim. When I was born, we were at 602 Kansas and moved into our current location in 1964. So we’ve been in this location for 52 years.” Briman’s adapted its business over the years from a more department-store approach in the 1940s and ’50s, selling clocks, luggage and leather goods, to focusing on fine jewelry sales in the late ’50s and early ’60s, Briman said. “One of the things that has set us apart is we have concentrated on selling better quality diamond products and better quality jewelry, obviously at a little higher price point, but marketing to the more quality-minded consumers,” he said. “We really haven’t shifted our thinking even as the business climate has shifted around us.” The company did have multiple locations, including a store on Massachusetts Street in Lawrence for 25 years, a North Topeka store in the ’40s and ’50s and a West Ridge Mall store for 22 years. “The ’90s were good to everybody, except retail in downtown Topeka,” he said. “We are back to a single-store location and still continuing with our philosophy,” Briman said, adding that his father taught him low-pressure sales and to focus on educating customers about quality jewelry. While he said it would be naive to think the Internet hasn’t affected Briman’s sales, focus has remained on customers who want to see and touch the jewelry before they buy. Briman, who is chairman of Downtown Topeka Inc., said he is committed to the area. “I have been walking up and down Kansas Avenue all of my life, as a little boy and
up to where I am right now,” he said. “This is my home.” Briman said he managed the West Ridge store, which pulled him away from the downtown environment for 22 years. But he clearly remembers the days when Dillard’s left 8th and S. Kansas Avenue and most retail followed. “It’s an evolution. Things evolve, things change. I have said to many people that downtown will never be what it was, but it will be something new and different,” he said, adding that he returned after the Heartland Visioning process had taken place and saw the tremendous energy people like architect Scott Gales, former Heartland Visioning CEO William Beteta, Topeka Councilman Brendan Jensen and others brought.
“I have been walking up and down Kansas Avenue all of my life, as a little boy and up to where I am right now. This is my home.”
— Rob Briman
He listed the happenings over the years — the city’s commitment to the infrastructure, private investment, the purchase of more than 20 properties up and down Kansas Avenue — and talked about the “positive feeling and energy that has absolutely mushroomed and snowballed and careened forward.” “I have had people ask me, ‘OK, Rob, you’re all for this thing?’ and I absolutely am. I’ve been a vocal proponent of this, a contributor both of time and money. We have continued to operate our business in the heart of this,” he said. “We’re believers. I think that if you wait two to seven more years, you’re going to see a dramatic change in the complexion of our downtown.” At the time West Ridge Mall was built, Briman said, he understood the lifespan of an enclosed mall was something like 20 years. Now, “lifestyle centers” are in. “We are re-creating this in our downtown by people expressing their desire to come back to the city’s core and the effort to revitalize downtown with the private Continues on Page 9E
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Continued from Page 8E dollars that are being invested and the public dollars that are being invested,” he said. “We’re creating spaces for people to come down and hang out. Events are happening downtown. People are showing interest in living downtown. “With the announcement of the Cyrus Hotel in the 900 block and their concept of the niche hotel and the upscale bar and restaurant that they are planning, I’m really excited for these things to come and actually be here and to be able to say: ‘See, I told you so. It’s happening.’ ”
That investment of private dollars was key to what is happening, Trapp said. He has put a lot of money into maintaining the historic building where Topeka Blueprint is located, including creating a
“My wife and I live here and then work downstairs, kind of like back in the old days. We gotta love downtown in order to do it. There’s quite a few people that live downtown.”
— Craig Trapp
Topeka Blueprint Co. Inc. photographs by THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL
From left, Kristen Swart, Craig Trapp, Lynn Weinbrecht and David Halseth are members of the team at Topeka Blueprint Co. Inc. Trapp is company president.
Topeka Blueprint Co. first opened in downtown Topeka in 1927 before moving two blocks to its current location at 608 S.W. Jackson in 1942.
BANKING ON DOWNTOWN Several financial institutions make their homes in downtown Topeka. Here are four: Capitol Federal Begun in the late 1800s as Capitol Building and Loan Association, the name was changed in 1938 to Capitol Federal Savings and Loan Association. Its first office opened in 1950 at 1201 Topeka Blvd. In 1961, the bank made a commitment to downtown Topeka, opening its home office there at 700 S. Kansas Ave. on Dec. 9, 1961. Capital City Bank Launched in 1892 in Richland, as the Neese Brothers Bank, the business became Capital City State Bank and Trust Co. in 1964 and moved into the Topeka market. It was acquired by the
This downtown Topeka company has been operating in the city’s core since 1927, said president Craig Trapp. It was located first in the 800 block of S.W. Jackson, then moved to its current location at 608 S.W. Jackson in 1942. The company has changed significantly since it began, when it operated with a sun frame on the roof of the office at 624 S. Kansas Ave. That frame required the exposure of translucent drawings on vellum or cloth to a sensitized paper in the sun. Two former employees of the Parr Map and Engineering Co. bought the sun frame and launched Topeka Blueprint Co. Trapp has been working with the company since 1970, and in that time period, he watched along with many other downtown business people as the area changed. He likes what he is seeing now. “This is like the third (redevelopment) that I’ve seen of the changing of downtown,” he said. “I like this one a lot better. There are a lot of good people behind it now. There’s a lot of money behind it, and people are putting their money where their mouth is, so to speak. It’s not just a dream.”
Sabatini family in 1979, and owner Frank Sabatini renovated the downtown bus depot at 120 S.W. 6th. He placed the third Capital City Bank location there in 1988. CoreFirst Bank & Trust Opened Dec. 3, 1959, as Commerce State Bank, changing its name in 1988 to Commerce Bank & Trust, finally becoming CoreFirst in July 2007. The bank expanded outside Topeka over the years, opening branches in northeast Kansas and one in Inglewood, Calif. Fidelity State Bank & Trust Founded in 1922, Fidelity State Bank has been on the corner of S. Kansas Avenue and 6th Street since that time. In 1958, the founding family sold the bank to Anderson Chandler and members of the Chandler family. In 1966, the Chandlers built the building at the corner of 6th and S. Kansas Avenue, where it stands today.
4,000-square-foot loft apartment 12 years ago. Trapp said he would like to see a grocery store of some type locate downtown to meet the needs of those living there, and he would love to see more restaurants. “My wife and I live here and then work downstairs, kind of like back in the old days,” he said. “We gotta love downtown in order to do it. There’s quite a few people that live downtown.”
Wolfe’s Camera, 635 S. Kansas Ave., opened its doors 92 years ago. Harold Wolfe founded the business in 1924, according to owner Mike Worswick. He opened in the 700 block of S. Kansas Avenue and worked primarily as a commercial photographer. He eventually moved to 633 S.W. Jackson sometime during World War II, Worswick said, and there were two subsequent moves — to 106 S.W. 8th St. and 116 S.W. Continues on Page 10E
The Topeka Capital-Journal | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | 10E
Continued from Page 9E 8th St. — before the business settled at 635 S. Kansas Ave., where it is today. “The company has been within approximately a one square-block area of the
“It’s a new generation of people with a new generation of vision that will dictate what happens to downtown Topeka over the next 30 years.”
— Mike Worswick
downtown for 90 years,” Worswick said. Wolfe was Worswick’s uncle, and Worswick was in and out of the family business since 1960, starting at age 13 as a salesman at one of the company’s branch stores. With that kind of history, Worswick has ridden the tides of downtown, both in its heyday, when it was the center of Topeka shopping, and through the lean years as White Lakes Mall and then West Ridge Mall drew stores and shoppers. “The thing that has challenged retailing, in general, over the years first was urban sprawl, where we did not concentrate our shopping,” Worswick said. “I think Lawrence was a prime example where they resisted destroying their commercial area for many decades. They finally succumbed, and so now they’re facing some of the same challenges that other communities are facing. But they’ve managed to maintain an entertainment district downtown.” Worswick is hopeful today’s S. Kansas Avenue and downtown area can become an entertainment and commercial hub for the city. “It’s a new generation of people with a new generation of vision that will dictate what happens to downtown Topeka over the next 30 years,” he said. “That’s what it’s going to take. There’s not enough of
the so-called old guard to move the needle.” Of the multiple disrupters to retail business, Worswick pointed to online transactions and how Wolfe’s is adapting. “A substantial portion of Wolfe’s business today is transacted on the Internet with customers in every state in the union,” he said. “So we’re not the same business that we were even five or 10 years ago.” Worswick said he believes it is something of a “pipe dream” to think that S. Kansas Avenue will be what it once was, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a successful area. “The best hope that we have is to be a blend of things,” he said, calling for a mix of entertainment and fashion stores one might find in a mall. Worswick said he believes downtown stores will have to adapt their hours, staying open longer, until 9 or 10 p.m., but that will come as the entertainment component of the area begins to drive traffic there. “It’s going to take something extraordinary to make the downtown reach its full potential. We are going to be better off. We’re going to succeed, but our success could be far greater if we could accelerate the rate at which the vacant stores are filled in, and they have to be filled in with businesses that have the economic viability to remain successful,” he said. Worswick admitted he struggled when the downtown redevelopment process began in the mid to late 2000s. “I went to the meetings, and somebody would say something and I would mutter under my breath, ‘I don’t think like that,’ ” he said. “Then as I listened and I looked at the enthusiasm of the people in Topeka who have a vision for downtown that are aged 30 to 40, I knew that it was time for me to not stand in their way. Because I’m approaching the end of my business career, and the people who are going to make downtown be successful for the next 30 years need to make the decisions and to focus the vision.”
DEEP ROOTS Many businesses in downtown Topeka have beginnings extending back decades. Here are several: Avenue Hair Styling & Day Spa 630 S. Kansas Ave. Established downtown: 1988 Owner: Irene Redman
photographs by THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL
Mike Worswick, owner of Wolfe's Camera, 635 S. Kansas Ave., has been with the company since he was 13. He has watched downtown Topeka strive to return to its glory days.
Established in 1924, first in the 700 block of S. Kansas Avenue, Wolfe’s Camera has been a steady presence in downtown Topeka for 92 years.
Bank Barbers 534 S. Kansas Ave., #104 Established downtown: 1971 Owners: Dave Haverkamp and John Reilly
Clayton Financial Services Inc. 716 S. Kansas Ave. Established downtown: 1984 Owners: Randy and Debra Clayton
Downtown Topeka Inc. 515 S. Kansas Ave. Established downtown: 1964 CEO: Vince Frye
Mize, Houser & Co. P.A. 534 S. Kansas Ave., Ste. 400 Established downtown: 1956 Owners: 19 shareholders
Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway 920 S.E. Quincy Established downtown: 1859 as the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The first office building for the railway was located near 4th Street and Kansas Avenue in 1869.
David’s Jewelers 623 S. Kansas Ave. Established downtown: 1968 Owner: Mark Boose
Hanover Pancake House 1034 S. Kansas Ave. Established downtown: 1969 Owners: Scott and Jean Albrecht
Stephen Smith Images 931 S. Kansas Ave. Established downtown: 1978 Owner: Stephen Smith
Designed Business Interiors Inc. 107 S.W. 6th St. Established downtown: 1936, as Thacher Inc. Owner: Kevin Sutcliffe
McDonald’s Restaurant 1100 S. Kansas Ave. Established downtown: 1967 Owner: Dobski & Assoc. McDonald’s
The Topeka Capital-Journal | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | 11E
“Topeka is good about being negative on itself. We’re our worst critics. As a lifelong Topekan, I’ve been just as guilty as anybody else. (Now I’m) saying, ‘You’ve got to be the change you want to see.’ If I don’t put any skin on the town and move downtown, I can’t complain.” — Al Struttman
photographs by THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL
Bill Connor, left, is manager of Moburts Spices and More, 820 S. Kansas Ave. Al Struttman is co-owner.
Cooking classes at Moburts Spices, 820 S. Kansas Ave., now are selling out.
Move downtown challenging, rewarding Fledgling businesses are figuring out formulas for success
Topeka’s downtown may be spiffed up, and announcements seem to come every other week about new businesses or buildings purchased, but it still can be challenging to operate a business there in the beginning stages of revitalization. Moburts Spices co-owner Al Struttman wanted to be part of the downtown revitalization, so the business moved to 820 S. Kansas Ave. “Being downtown kind of gets us back to my dad’s roots,” he said, referring to the fact that his father was a chef years ago for the downtown Walgreens restaurant and that he opened other stores around the country. “He said that’s where he met my mom. She was a waitress downtown.” Aside from his personal and sentimental reasons, Struttman said he is excited by the changes downtown. The move was challenging for his business, he added, but he let staff at Downtown Topeka Inc. know he wanted to relocate and they put him in touch with his current landlord, who worked with him on price. Struttman and his wife, Mary Jo, were
able to expand their inventory and also create a space to hold cooking classes in their new location, which is significantly larger than their previous store on S.W. Gage Boulevard. The last two cooking classes sold out, and he expects that part of their business to grow. He said he feels positive about what is happening downtown. “There’s always going to be the naysayers,” he said. “Topeka is good about being negative on itself. We’re our worst critics. As a lifelong Topekan, I’ve been just as guilty as anybody else. (Now I’m) saying, ‘You’ve got to be the change you want to see.’ If I don’t put any skin on the town and move downtown, I can’t complain.” Brenda Price, owner of Absolute Design by Brenda, moved downtown seven years ago. She is hopeful empty buildings will fill up and the current trend will continue. “I try at some point to patronize every business downtown,” she said, and she also attends Downtown Topeka Inc. meetings. Last year, she volunteered to work the gate for the Capital City Jazz
& Food Truck Festival in October, and she was surprised and impressed by how many people attended. Now that construction is mostly completed, Price said, walk-in traffic is increasing. Like Struttman, she acknowledges there are always poor opinions. “You always have the negative folks, and I try to weave them in on the right track,” she said, laughing. “I never say anything negative about it. I try to give them heads up on why things happened, and what’s coming. Most of them are just not informed. They haven’t really read the paper or don’t have an understanding, so then they’re negative.” Many thought the money spent by the city downtown was just for beautification, and she takes the time to explain it was needed infrastructure changes. “How come we have businesses (where) stools don’t flush and sewers back up?” she would ask them. “Who can open a new business under those conditions?” She remains hesitant about changing her store hours to adapt to downtown events — a sentiment echoed by Clinton
Appelhanz, owner of Reliant Apparel and Boho Mojo. Appelhanz pointed out that many businesses are run by their owners, who already work long hours. “I can probably say that’s probably going to have to happen,” he said. “But, obviously, it needs to make economic sense for these businesses to do so.” It takes awhile to change attitudes, and many businesses that have been located downtown will have to make that shift as more events occur and more customers are visiting the area. Appelhanz said his business doesn’t depend on walk-in traffic, so the move downtown hasn’t been challenging. He chose the downtown location because it was reasonably priced and therefore made financial sense. His mother, who helps in the store, also has worked downtown for years and was able to be nearby. Appelhanz has seen significant growth since he opened downtown, adding about 10 employees. In the first days, it was just one employee, him and other family members.
12E | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | The Topeka Capital-Journal
Dec. 5, 1854: Nine men meeting in a cabin on the south bank of the Kansas River, near the present-day intersection of 1st and S. Kansas Avenue, create Topeka and launch downtown.
building, 700 S. Kansas Ave., and KPL building, 818 S. Kansas Ave., built. Two bank towers are built: NationsBank at 534 S. Kansas Ave. and Mercantile Bank at S.W. 8th and Jackson.
Jan. 1, 1995: The Neighborhood Revitalization Act takes effect. It is aimed at getting people to reinvest and renovate instead of building new on the edge of Topeka.
April 1855: Farnsworth brothers begin construction on the first substantial building in Topeka, believed to be 425 S. Kansas Ave. It became known as Constitution Hall.
June 26, 1962: Sears, tired of waiting for a site in a proposed Urban Renewal area, signs a lease with the new White Lakes Mall and announces it will leave downtown.
June 18, 1995: The old First National Bank building at 535 S. Kansas Ave. is brought down on a Sunday morning in a spectacular implosion. It was replaced with the new AmVestors Financial Corp. building.
1861: Kansas becomes a state in January, and Topeka becomes its capital.
1963: Ripley Cleaners purchases the first property in the Urban Renewal area for redevelopment. 1964: Downtown Topeka Inc. forms. Hallmark announces plans for a $2 million facility in the Urban Renewal Area. Oct. 15, 1964:
SUBMITTED/KANSAS STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
1865: The Congregational Church founds Lincoln College at the northeast corner of S.W. 10th and Jackson. In 1869, the name was changed to Washburn College and the campus moved to its present site.
White Lakes Mall opens.
1965: New Burlington Northern Santa Fe building opens. Covered mall with ice skating rink is proposed between City Hall and the courthouse on S.E. 7th. Present Shawnee County Courthouse opens at S.E. 7th and Quincy.
1866: Construction begins on the east wing of the new state Capitol. 1867: The first Shawnee County Courthouse opens at 4th and S. Kansas Avenue. 1869: and curbed.
Kansas Avenue is graded
1879: Topeka’s first city hall, 7th and S. Kansas Avenue, is occupied. 1888-89: First of what historian Douglass Wallace called three great building booms in downtown occurs: Columbian building, 112-114 S.W. 6th; Crawford building, 501 S.W. Jackson; old Thacher building, 110 S.E. 8th; Davies building, 725-727 S. Kansas Ave. 1895: Crosby Brothers Department Store moves from 533 S. Kansas Ave., where it began in 1880, to 717-723 S. Kansas Ave. 1923: The original Security Benefit Building, 700 S.W. Harrison, is completed. 1924: opens.
Kansan Hotel, 100 S.E. 9th,
1966: Macy’s building opens at 8th and S. Kansas Avenue; it became Dillard’s in 1986, and in 1988, Dillard’s moved to West Ridge Mall. A plan is proposed to allow parking in the center of S. Kansas Avenue but dies because of the cost of curb cuts. Jan. 6, 1966: Montgomery Ward announces it will give up its site near White Lakes Mall and build a $1 million store in the Urban Renewal area. The Topeka/Shawnee County Law Enforcement Center is now located in that spot. June 8, 1966: A tornado sweeps through the city, causing $100 million in damage and killing 16 people. 1967: Anderson Chandler announces he will build a new Fidelity State Bank on the historical site of 600 S. Kansas Ave. State officials announce the route for the highway later to be called Interstate 70 through downtown.
1969: Merchants National Bank building opens at S.W. 8th and Jackson.
1970: Proposal seeks to close 10th Street as part of a Capitol Area Plaza. First National Bank moves into its new building at 534 S. Kansas Ave.
1937: Last electric trolley is retired in favor of gasoline-powered buses.
1971: DTI is involved in the creation of a concept for a Greater Topeka Civic Center between 7th and 9th streets.
1940: Municipal Auditorium/City Hall building at S.E. 7th and Quincy is completed.
1975: Crosby Brothers Clothing Co., 717 S. Kansas Ave., closes after nearly 95 years.
1951: Flood devastates Topeka, particularly North Topeka. The Garlinghouse Building, 820 S.E. Quincy, opens; it is now the Columbian and is up for sale.
1954: First high-rise state office building, later named the Docking State Office Building, opens at S.W. 10th and Harrison. Early 1960s:
New Capitol Federal
1997: A comprehensive planning document for downtown Topeka prepared by consulting firms ZHA Inc. and Barton-Aschman identifies three visions for downtown: premier office site, cultural and entertainment hub and more general vision of an area for “living, shopping, working and playing.”
1980: A team of architects spends four days in Topeka under a program sponsored by the American Institute of Architects, concluding main obstacles to downtown progress were problems with local governmental process and “hidden agendas regarding development opportunities.”
1998: DTI presents Kansas Ave. Parking Plaza concept to city council. Consultant is hired to help construct a business plan for implementation of a cultural arts and entertainment district.
1983: Discussion of building an adult detention facility begins, with a proposed site north and west of the courthouse. City acquires property between S. Kansas Avenue and S.W. Jackson, 5th to 6th, from the state in a three-way deal in which the state would buy the old Santa Fe General Office Building and Santa Fe would build its new building at S.E. 10th and Quincy. Among the city’s acquisitions were the New England Building, 503 S. Kansas Ave., and the First National Bank Building, 535 S. Kansas Ave. 1983: Discussion begins for the Santa Fe project in the 900 block of S.E. Quincy. DTI puts together a relocation committee to help move businesses being displaced. DTI travels to Lincoln, Neb., to witness downtown redevelopment. January 1984: The Topeka City Commission designates Bonjour-Mason Inc. as exclusive developer to use the tax increment financing process to develop Watertower Place in the area southeast of 10th and S. Kansas Avenue. August 1985: The old Santa Fe office building in the 900 block of S.W. Jackson is sold to the state and becomes the Landon State Office Building. 1986: Capital City Business Improvement District is created. Business owners pay annual tax based on the square footage they occupy, with money used for physical improvements and special events. 1987: First of three phases of the Kansas Avenue 4th to 10th “streetscape” project begins. The total project cost $4.6 million and finished in 1989. 1988: Hypermart USA opens Jan. 25 on the northwest corner of S.W. 17th and Wanamaker, followed on March 2 by the opening of West Ridge Mall, kicking off massive retail development along the S.W. Wanamaker corridor. 1988: Topeka City Council votes not to reinstall S. Kansas Avenue parking meters that had been removed during “streetscape” improvements on the avenue.
1925-27: Wallace called the boom between these years “the biggie,” with projects including Jayhawk Hotel, Theater and Arcade; Central National Bank, 701 S. Kansas Ave.; and Kresge building, now Wolfe’s Camera, 635 S. Kansas Ave.
1934: The old Federal Building, built at 5th and S. Kansas Avenue in 1884, is razed.
1979: Pelletier’s closes its downtown store at 901 S. Kansas Ave. It had been downtown since 1883, when it began as MillsMcPherson and Co.
Aug. 6, 1998: Agreement is reached among the city, state and Topeka Building Commission to construct a five-story office building to be leased to the state at the southeast corner of S.W. 10th and Jackson, along with a parking garage to be operated by the city immediately to the south. Capitol Plaza Hotel opens. July 1999: Ground is broken for a new five-story office building and parking garage in the 1000 block between S. Kansas and S.W. Jackson. 2000:
1968: Wards opens in July. Southwestern Bell announces plans for a new building at S.E. 6th and Monroe.
1933: New Federal Building, now the downtown post office, opens at 424 S. Kansas Ave.
which would have been built where the Shawnee County Jail now stands.
Palace Clothing Co., 709-11 S. Kansas Ave., closes. New state Judicial Center opens south of the Capitol. 1977: Farmers market starts between the Shawnee County Courthouse and City Hall on S.E. 7th Street. Aug. 1, 1978: Shawnee County citizens reject 2-to-1 a proposed $19.2 million civic center,
1989: Future Heritage committee begins Light Up Our City campaign to purchase new holiday decorations for downtown, raising more than $100,000 in three years. 1992: established.
DTI riverfront committee
Go Topeka forms.
2001: DTI launches three-year, $900,000 grant incentive program to bring restaurants and housing downtown and update facades. The Joint Economic Development Commission is formed. Jan. 1, 2003: A quarter-cent countywide sales tax goes into effect to finance economic development and road and bridge improvements in the county. It became a half-cent tax in 2005. 2007-08: A Topeka Riverfront Project plan is developed by the Department of Landscape Architecture at Kansas State University. 2008: Heartland Visioning begins the 2008 Visioning process to revitalize downtown. 2010: NOTO is formed as a nonprofit, and Barbara Waterman-Peters is the first to establish studio space at 831 N. Kansas Ave. The Topeka City Council earmarks $5 million to be spent over three years for downtown revitalization. July 2011: Capitol Federal commits to an $18 million renovation of its downtown headquarters. 2012: The city approves almost $5 million for infrastructure improvements on S. Kansas Avenue. 2014: Kansas Statehouse renovations are completed. September 2014: JEDO approves funding to set up 712 Innovations. October 2014: DTI announces it exceeded its private investment fundraising goal, with more than $2.7 million raised. November 2015: Cody Foster announces a major downtown development project, the Cyrus Hotel.
1993: City council, exasperated as the Watertower Development Group misses another development deadline, cancels its agreement to be area’s developer. Riverfront development is made a priority for 1993, and DTI works with Railroad Days on the Union Pacific Station project. 1994: In July, to sort out conflicting development proposals, the city council adopts a resolution naming developer Howard Paul as development coordinator. In December, he resigns the unpaid position citing “the total lack of action by the city of Topeka.” As a temporary experiment, parking in the middle of S. Kansas Avenue between 8th to 10th is implemented.
March 2016: Ground is broken for a $30 million Topeka levee project. April 2016: Backers of a proposal for a Downtown Plaza tell the city they plan to make an offer on property to create the plaza.
INSIDE: Blocks illustrate diversity of offerings Architect One leads by example with renovations
I-70 changes will mean facelift for downtown
14E | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | The Topeka Capital-Journal
600 block of S. Kansas Ave., east side
Plaza could transform reach, landscape Fidelity State Bank has anchored block for almost 100 years The bulk of the east side of the 600 block of S. Kansas Avenue is owned by entities connected to Howard T. Paul, owner of H.T. Paul Co. Inc., a general contractor, and Paul Properties LLC, a property management company, both located at 201 S. Kansas Ave. Paul’s name crops up on properties from 612 to 632 S. Kansas Ave., which includes the offices of Visit Topeka Inc. at 618 S. Kansas Ave. The building covering those lots to the south of Fidelity State Bank & Trust Co. is one most people will recognize. In dark brick, it features a small green area and the remnants of an older wall, leaving a touch of artistic interest from a previous building. On the south end of the block are two buildings, one of which houses
BY THE NUMBERS Highest 2016 appraised value: 600 S. Kansas Ave., the Fidelity State Bank & Trust Co. building, appraised at $629,800 Lowest 2016 appraised value: 612 S. Kansas Ave., appraised at $192,000 Biggest jump in appraised value since 2015: 632 S. Kansas Ave. increased its value 1.89 percent from $254,100 in 2015 to $258,900 in 2016. Total east side 600 block appraised value: $1.75 million in 2016 the offices of Edward Jones financial adviser Kenton S. Cox and a Subway restaurant. The second, at 630 S. Kansas Ave., is home to Crown Beauty Sa-
lon, and at 628 S. Kansas Ave., you’ll find Fabtastic Furniture. Between those two buildings is a parking lot. Concerns have been raised by the businesses located on that corner that the downtown Topeka plaza being discussed — and which received $3.345 million in late 2015 in funding as part of the transient guest tax monies — will be located there. “If it’s going to be my building, that’s fine,” Fabtastic owner Renee Herrera said in a previous article. “I just want to know as soon as possible.” Herrera and others should know soon. Downtown plaza backers said around April 25 that they would be making an offer on property “soon” to create the plaza, which will feature a stage area for events, a park area and
a splash pad that could potentially be used as an ice rink during the winter. The project has been controversial, as was the decision to use part of the transient guest tax to fund the plaza. At the north end of the east side of the 600 block of S. Kansas Avenue is the Fidelity State Bank & Trust Co. This financial institution has been part of Topeka’s business landscape downtown since 1922. It has even been in the same location, although the Chandler family, which bought the bank in 1958, expanded the building. Part of downtown beautification includes a performance area in front of Fidelity on S. Kansas Avenue that will encourage musical or artistic performances.
600 block of S. Kansas Ave., west side
Newer businesses join established ones ’ Last ugly corner’ sheds label as building gets modern look One of downtown’s most iconic businesses, Wolfe’s Camera, is found on the west side of the 600 block of S. Kansas Avenue. The business has been in Mike Worswick’s family since it opened in 1924. The Wolfe’s building has been described as Spanish Colonial architecture, and it cost $125,000 when it was built in 1926. Flowing north down the block are other much-recognized businesses, including David’s Jewelers and Schlotzsky’s Deli. David’s is another longtime downtown business; David and Nancy Boose founded the store in 1968 and it is owned today by their son, David Boose. The store was built in 1905 and in the past housed a Hall’s Stationery Store. The block’s stalwart businesses are
BY THE NUMBERS Highest 2016 appraised value: KPERS building at 611 S. Kansas Ave., $5.08 million Lowest 2016 appraised value: 605 S. Kansas Ave., being renovated by Klaton Properties, appraised at $58,800 Biggest jump in appraised value since 2015: 627 S. Kansas Ave., where Absolute Design is located, appraised 8.43 percent higher, moving from $310,700 in 2015 to $336,900 in 2016 Total west side 600 block appraised value: $6.38 million in 2016 joined by some that are relatively new to the downtown. Brenda Price at Absolute
Design by Brenda, 629 S. Kansas Ave., relocated downtown almost seven years ago from a S.E. 29th and Croco Road location. “I’m excited about the changes, and hopeful that the empty buildings will fill up. I think that’s going to be the answer to the success,” Price said, adding that she has tried to be active in Downtown Topeka Inc. and other organizations to support the downtown. “I just want to know what’s going on around me, what’s happening and how it’s going to affect me.” The KPERS building sits solidly in the middle of the west 600 block. The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System manages defined-benefit retirement plans for state and local employees. The company moved into that building, which
formerly housed IBM offices, in 1998. At the time, remodeling of the building cost more than $725,000. Klaton Properties, the investment group of Jim Klausman, Butch Eaton and Mike Tryon, bought the building at 605 S. Kansas Ave. in July 2014. Like many of the downtown properties owned by the group, it is being renovated, but no plans have been announced for its use. At 601 S. Kansas Ave. stands the Ameriprise building, owned by financial adviser Frank Sica. He purchased the building in 2005 on a corner that thenDTI director Susan Mahoney called “one of the last ugly corners we have left in downtown.” Today, a sleekly modern building, valued at $261,100 by Shawnee County, houses Sica’s offices.
The Topeka Capital-Journal | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | 15E
700 block of S. Kansas Ave., east side
Mainstays’ commitment credited for boost
Capitol Federal re-investment, Clayton Financial among those who showed staying power The decision by Capitol Federal Savings & Loan, at 700 S. Kansas Ave., to renovate and reinvest in its property to the tune of $16 million is one that many downtown cite as a turning point in the revitalization process, saying the east side of the 700 block of S. Kansas Avenue benefits from that business’s commitment. The bank has been downtown since the 1890s, and John Dicus, president and chief executive officer, said the area is important to the business. “We all work down here on a daily basis and what we can do to make it a thriving downtown, we felt committed to do that,” he said. Private investment has been critical to current efforts, and Dicus said Capitol Federal was happy to be part of that. “You can have a lot of great ideas, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to —
BY THE NUMBERS
Highest 2016 appraised value: Capitol Federal, at 700 S. Kansas Ave., was appraised for $7.30 million in 2016 and $7.32 million in 2015, a decrease of 0.30 percent. Lowest 2016 appraised value: The vacant lot owned by Randy and Debra Clayton is appraised at $37,500. Biggest jump in appraised value since 2015: The property at 726 S. Kansas Ave. jumped 76.76 percent from 2015, from $59,800 to $105,700. It is owned by 724 Properties LLC, an entity of Nicholas Xidis, the owner of Hazel Hill Chocolates. Total east side 700 block appraised value: $10.43 million in 2016 there’s got to be a way to fund those ideas,” he said. “I can recall being back in a few meetings with some of the other business
leaders and political leaders from downtown and the city of Topeka, and it’s kind of like we can continue to meet over and over on this, but until somebody is willing to put some money behind the effort and show that there is a commitment here, we’re just going to keep meeting.” Along the block is another couple who has invested in downtown Topeka: Debra and Randy Clayton. They located their business, Clayton Financial Services, downtown when it opened in 1984. They also own two buildings next to their own: one at 718 and one at 720. The 720 S. Kansas Ave. space is a new purchase. In 2015, the building there caught on fire, ultimately displacing two businesses, HHB BBQ and Top City Soda Pop. The Claytons bought the land, demolished the building and will erect a building with retail or restaurant space below
and offices above. 712 Innovations, naturally, is at 712 S. Kansas Ave., a property managed by Paul Properties Management Inc., for owner of record Gray Horse Farms LLC. Online documentation says the LLC is owned by Lisa M. Paul, of Florida. The building houses offices including Kansas Legal Services and Vision Bank. Classic Bean, a coffee shop and restaurant, is on the 700 block, as is the thirdgeneration business Briman’s Leading Jewelers. New to the block are Cashmere Popcorn and Sprout Communications, which will move into the soon-to-be remodeled 728 S. Kansas Ave. building. Sprout owner Caleb Asher is taking on the challenge of creating his company offices on the second floor, which hadn’t been occupied for at least 10 years and didn’t even have electricity.
700 block of S. Kansas Ave., west side
Buildings still carry historical significance Crosby Brothers, Palace known to generations of Topeka residents The west side of the 700 block features two well-known buildings that often are referred to by their former retail occupants — the Crosby Brothers building and the Palace. Crosby Brothers, at 719 S. Kansas Ave., is owned by Jim Klausman, Mike Tryon and Butch Eaton as 719 Kansas LLC. Klausman said recently that Crosby has a new “major” tenant, with Westar Energy leasing two floors in that building. Gina Penzig, spokeswoman for Westar, confirmed the information. “In the downtown area, we have employees working in our general office, an office near 2nd and Jackson, and on floors of the BNSF building, the Mills Building and the Crosby Building,” she said. “The leases at the Mills and Crosby Buildings provide space for employees who are working on large projects that require more space for team interaction and collaboration.” The old Palace building at 709 S. Kan-
BY THE NUMBERS
Highest 2016 appraised value: 719 S. Kansas Ave., appraised at $2.95 million Lowest 2016 appraised value: 729 S. Kansas Ave., owned by Maricel McCabe Wilson, at $49,000 Biggest jump in appraised value since 2015: 729 S. Kansas Ave. also takes this category, increasing 8.24 percent from 2015 to 2016. It was valued at $46,100 in 2015. Decreases in appraised values: This west side of the 700 block of S. Kansas Avenue has the most decreases in appraised values of any area in the 600 through 900 blocks. 719 S. Kansas Ave. dropped 24.51 percent, from $3.9 million in 2015 to $2.95 million in 2016. Nine lofts in the Palace building dropped from 6 to 12 percent in value. Total west side 700 block appraised value: $7.03 million in 2016 sas Ave., also owned by Klausman, Tryon and Eaton as Palace Properties LLC, may take another generation or two to lose its
“Palace” appellation. The Palace was in business there for 90 years, until the mid1970s, and it stands firm in the memories of Topekans. The owners honor that memory by using the name Palace for their work at the location. Klausman said there are condos in that building — many finished and rented but some yet to be completed. The first-floor space, iconic on the avenue for its vast windows with a set-back area that offers a reminder of downtowns in the past, isn’t leased. Some of it is ready for lease, but there is a large space that isn’t ready and that “we’ll go ahead and renovate,” he said. One loft owner, Andrea Engstrom, has been actively involved in the downtown area, working through the Heartland Visioning process planning for downtown growth, and she also helped create the campaign “Do It Downtown.” “Zack Snethen, a group of other folks (and I) from the Capital District Project
worked on a team to create the ‘Do It Downtown’ tagline, and it’s about living, working and playing downtown as the core of our community,” she said. Engstrom met her husband, Josiah Engstrom, during that process, and they were eager to relocate downtown from a house in the suburbs. The Kansas Automobile Dealers Association owns its building at 731 S. Kansas Ave., and the company is proud of its downtown roots. On its website, KADA prominently displays a Kansas State Historical Society photo of the downtown area in the 1930s, when 68 automobile dealers met at the Jayhawk Hotel to organize the association. Another iconic building downtown is at 701 S. Kansas Ave., today known as Equity Bank. Its stone columns, in the Italian Renaissance style, dominate the corner. The building was built in 1927, but in 1870, it was the site of Topeka’s first city hall.
16E | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | The Topeka Capital-Journal
800 block of S. Kansas Ave., east side
Giant companies dominate region
Kansan Towers, Westar Energy buildings cast shadows, but others thrive as well This block is home to two large downtown structures, Kansan Towers and the offices of Westar Energy. Aside from the Westar building, which doesn’t show its property valuation on the Shawnee County website, the Towers is the most high-dollar property on the east side of the 800 block. It is one of the places offering downtown living, and the building features one- and two-bedroom apartments on its upper floors, ranging in size from about 600 square feet to 975 square feet. At street-level, you’ll find CoreFirst Bank & Trust. Klaton Properties LLC, owned by Jim Klausman, Butch Eaton and Mike Tryon, owns the Kansan Towers. Klausman said the building is 100 percent occupied, with 50 percent of space
BY THE NUMBERS
Highest 2016 appraised value: Probably the Westar Energy properties, but that information isn’t included in the Shawnee County database. Otherwise, it is the Kansan Towers at $2.95 million Lowest 2016 appraised value: 826 S. Kansas Ave., appraised at $97,300 in 2016 and $89,300 in 2015 Biggest jump in appraised value since 2015: 820 S. Kansas Ave., owned by Thomas and Lisa Stubbs; the property increased 22.76 percent from $289,600 in 2015 to $355,500 in 2016 Total east side 800 block appraised value: $3.54 million, excluding Westar
going to offices and 50 percent to apartments.
Westar doesn’t appear on the county rolls because its property taxes are determined by the state based on the value of the company, said spokeswoman Gina Penzig. In 2015, Westar paid $145 million in property taxes in Kansas, with $18 million going to Shawnee County. The tower portion of Westar Energy’s downtown building, at 818 S. Kansas Ave., has been in the electricity business since it was built in 1962 by the Kansas Power & Light Co. The 800 S. Kansas Ave. portion was built as a home for Macy’s department store. It later became Dillard’s before that retail company moved to West Ridge Mall on S.W. Wanamaker Road. Tucked between the two large buildings are three smaller buildings.
Moburts Spices recently relocated to the downtown area, settling in the street-level floor of 820 S. Kansas Ave. The building is owned by Lisa and Thomas Stubbs, who live above the store in a loft apartment. Klaton Properties also owns the building at 822 S. Kansas Ave., and Topeka Councilman Brendan R. Jensen owns the building at 826 S. Kansas Ave., which was built in 1900. That building has just over 4,900 square feet, and, according to online listings, the first-floor space with windows onto the street is available. Klausman said he is “actively” working with several businesses about putting stores in the buildings owned by Klaton, but he doesn’t have any firm commitments to announce.
800 block of S. Kansas Ave., west side
Investors hone in on key expanse
Iconic buildings offer potential for development of properties The west side of the street on the 800 block of S. Kansas Avenue is owned primarily by Klaton Real Estate LLC, a group of investors comprised of Jim Klausman, Butch Eaton and Mike Tryon. They own five properties there, from 807 to 815 S. Kansas Ave. Rays Red LLC, which is owned by Klausman, Eaton, Greg Schwerdt and John Federico, owns the former Ray Beers building at 805 S. Kansas Ave. A parking garage, owned in part by the city of Topeka and in part by Centre City Developers LLC, takes up a good portion of the block. Centre City is owned by Dennis Mullin, Jack Crocker and Thomas Arthur, all of Manhattan, and Patrick Finan, of Topeka. The Ray Beers building is one of the most iconic in the downtown area,
BY THE NUMBERS
Highest 2016 appraised value: 825 S. Kansas Ave. The city of Topeka portion is $2.61 million; the parts owned by Centre City Developers total $1.84 million. Lowest 2016 appraised value: 811 S. Kansas Ave., appraised at $60,500 in 2016, up from $58,800 in 2015 Biggest jump in appraised value since 2015: 807 S. Kansas Ave.; this property, owned by Klaton Real Estate LLC, went up 24.24 percent from 2015 to 2016, from $49,100 to $61,000 Total west side 800 block appraised value: $5.29 million bringing to mind for many Topekans the clothing business that thrived in downtown, and with other Topeka locations, for decades. After Ray Beers closed, the
building was home to Barley’s Brewhaus, Kinko’s and then Tucker’s Bar and Grill, until it closed in 2005. The Rays Red investors plan to lease the space, and Klausman in the past told The Topeka Capital-Journal it would be ideal for restaurants, retail shops or as office space. Klausman is one of the Topekans most heavily invested in downtown — he said he owns 16 buildings — and he is excited about the potential there. He made his first investment — the Dibble Building, 121 S.E. 6th — about 10 years ago. “Back then, we saw that downtown Topeka had some challenges, certainly, but also had some opportunities,” he said, “and we wanted to go ahead and start making investments.” Klausman said he also is an owner of the building next door to Dibble, the
former Downtowner restaurant, and it is scheduled for renovations. “Folks are getting pretty excited about downtown,” he said. “I’m very pleased with how things are going. It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to be a period of at least a couple of years.” Klausman, who is unwilling to comment on any businesses that may be considering going into the block, said revamping downtown is important for Topeka. “I went to downtown Tulsa with the Chamber, and that was pretty exciting to see what they’d done with theirs,” he said. “We travel across the country to see other downtowns. Those that are doing really well, their downtown is reflective upon the whole city. I think it’s extremely important.”
The Topeka Capital-Journal | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | 17E
900 block of S. Kansas Ave., east side
Boutique hotel will keep facade, change feel Another investor taking wait-and-see approach before making move In the next few months, the east side of S. Kansas Avenue in the 900 block will begin a dramatic shift as demolition and then construction of the new Cyrus Hotel begins. The $7 million to $9 million boutique hotel, a project by downtown investor Cody Foster, a co-founder of Advisors Excel, will use four buildings from 912 to 920 S. Kansas Ave., maintaining historical facades to keep the downtown feel of the area. But rising behind those streetfront stores will be a modern tower behind the center two buildings, Foster said. In April, AIM Strategies announced the hotel would rise to eight floors, instead of the six originally planned. The hotel will feature a courtyard at street
BY THE NUMBERS Highest 2016 appraised value: 900 S. Kansas Ave. at $2.47 million Lowest 2016 appraised value: 926, 928 and 930 S. Kansas Ave., all owned by Hunter Glen LLC (Deborah and Marvin Spees), were valued at $20,630 each Biggest jump in appraised value since 2015: 906 S. Kansas Ave., which increased 62.20 percent from its 2015 total appraised value of $395,800 to its 2016 value of $642,000 Total east side 900 block appraised value: $3.99 million level and a rooftop patio, as well as other outdoor event spaces on the second and
third floors that face S. Kansas Avenue. Foster’s company, AIM Strategies Inc., also purchased the building at 920 S. Kansas Ave. in early May. No plans have been shared about what will happen on the vacant lot to the south of the hotel, which is owned by Marvin Spees, owner of Capital City Oil. Another downtown investor indicated Spees might be waiting to see what is needed downtown before deciding what to do with that lot. Architect One owns the building at 906 S. Kansas Ave., where it remodeled the upper floors and leased the ground level to HHB BBQ after its former location was destroyed by a fire. A group of investors, including Mike Fox, Michael Wilson and Daryl Craft,
owns the office building at 900 S. Kansas Ave. It houses companies like HTK Architects and Certus Structural Engineers Inc. The group, which formed 900 Kansas LLC, bought the building in May 2009. Wilson founded Architect One in 1988; Fox owns Celtic Fox, a local Irish bar and restaurant; and Craft is executive vice president at The Private Bank at BOK Financial. “I think we’ve got a chance of making it work this time,” Fox said of downtown revitalization. “The expectations can’t be tremendous right in the beginning. You’ve got to have some people that can stay for a while. On Wanamaker, if something doesn’t make it in a year, they’ll close it. Here, it’s gonna take several years.”
900 block of S. Kansas Ave., west side
Eclectic mix of businesses adds flavor
State offices increasingly occupying more space along stretch The west side of the 900 block of S. Kansas Avenue features some of the unique small businesses that many hold up as a goal to be mixed along the avenue to pull people downtown. The Merchant, owned by Lisa Boyd, is in the middle of the block at 913, and its large awning is reminiscent of downtowns of old. She announced in May she will close and has sold the building to downtown investor Cody Foster. Field of Greens and The Break Room, two unique restaurants that serve a popping lunch crowd, are nearby. It is stores like those that will make the downtown vibrant, said John Hunter, executive director of Heartland Visioning. “Restaurants downtown are just essential,” he said. “They don’t want chain restaurants. We’re really talking about local,
BY THE NUMBERS Highest 2016 appraised value: Mills Building, 901 S. Kansas Ave., at $3.63 million Lowest 2016 appraised value: 927 S. Kansas Ave., owned by William A. Carriger Jr. and Diana Liu, at $61,200. On the street level, it’s leased by optometrist Jeffery Cramer. Biggest jump in appraised value since 2015: 911 S. Kansas Ave., which increased 13.53 percent from its 2015 total appraised value of $337,000 to its 2016 value of $382,000. It’s listed as owned by Schultz Development LLC, or Chris and Diane Schultz. The building houses the Break Room. Total west side 900 block appraised value: $5.28 million unique interesting stores, and the decors inside where you really feel good about
where you’re at. It’s not like we don’t have a base of those — Schlotzsky’s, HHB BBQ , Pepe & Chela’s.” The Mills building anchors the block at the corner of 9th Street and S. Kansas Avenue, and more than 40,000 square feet of office space was vacated by the Kansas Department of Agriculture when it moved to Manhattan in 2014. Previously, the building had been home to several state offices, including Legislative Post Audit and the State Water Office. The Kansas Department of Revenue is scheduled to move into the building. According to state records, the state agency has a long-term lease on the building that begins in July 2016 and expires in 2041. Other state offices also are located in the building, including the Securities Commissioner. Westar Energy also has space.
The Mills Building got its name from Mills Dry Goods, which was in the spot in 1910. Even more people know it as the former Pelletier’s department store. Down the street on the next corner is one of downtown’s two Subway restaurants, and you’re almost guaranteed to wait in line at lunchtime. The Subway leases from building owner Pantaleon Florez Jr., a Topeka defense lawyer whose offices are also in the building. Also on the block is the building owned by Stephen and Edie Smith at 931 S. Kansas Ave. It houses Stephen Smith’s portrait business, and the couple lives upstairs in a loft they remodeled five years ago. Edie Smith isn’t quiet about her love for the downtown. She is director of marketing and membership for Downtown Topeka Inc.
18E | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | The Topeka Capital-Journal
From left, Scott Gales, president, and Michael Wilson, founding partner, renovated the building at 906 S. Kansas Ave. for Architect One offices.
Remodel ‘game-changer’ for architectural firm Renovating older buildings challenging but rewarding, owners say When Scott Gales and Michael Wilson walked into the S. Kansas Avenue building they purchased for their architecture business, the broker wouldn’t even walk in with them. A “foamy, bubble bath-looking mold” was growing about 18 inches deep, said Wilson, founding partner of Architect One, the result of a bad roof that let water in the building at 906 S. Kansas Ave. Such challenges as mold, bad roofs, unstable foundation and 2-inch-thick plaster-andlathe walls are part and parcel of renovating older buildings like those found downtown. Most in the area are between 50 and 100 years old.
Gales, president of Architect One, said the two men ended up spending more than $100 per square foot to renovate the 4,100square-foot building, but it probably was less expensive than building new. The building was gutted of everything except the elevator and stairs, Wilson said. Along the way, they uncovered a wall dating to 1888 that remains a centerpiece of the design. Along with their own building, the two work with numerous clients renovating older buildings. Challenges, such as minor structural issues, basements that let in water and other problems, are typical, Wilson said.
“By and large, a remodel is a remodel,” he said. “We’ve done a number of them down here, and each one’s had its own challenge but nothing that’s really that much different from other projects.” The move downtown was a smart business decision, both men agreed. Along with exposing them to additional clients, the move created a positive mood change in their office. “It really was a game-changer for our staff,” Wilson said. “They bought in right away because they liked walking outside and grabbing lunch across the street. It changed the culture in our office.” Designing for downtown, in general, can
be challenging, and Gales said the buildings are long and narrow, and sometimes you have to be creative to let in natural light and use the space. Using every bit of space can be important — Architect One has a patio area on the roof that has proved popular. Gales said he looks at what in the existing structure can be maximized to bring character and charm to the new space, such as its stone wall. Ross Freeman, president of Pioneer Group Inc., specializes in historic rehabilitation projects; his firm completed downtown’s Dillon House renovation. There are Continues on Page 19E
The Topeka Capital-Journal | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | 19E
photographs by ARCHITECT ONE
Architect One architects Scott Gales and Michael Wilson found mold when they first entered the building at 906 S. Kansas Ave. They tore out almost everything to create a retail space on the first floor, which now houses HHB BBQ, and their offices upstairs.
A wall dating to 1888 that the owners uncovered during demolition is a focal point in the conference room at Architect One. Continued from Page 18E almost always surprises, though some can be good. Beautiful wood floors were hidden under carpeting in the Dillon House, for instance. But another hoped-for asset didn’t materialize. “The historic photos showed oak-beamed ceilings, and there were four layers of ceiling, and we kept hoping that when we take off the next one, that original oak would be there,” he said. “We got to the fourth ceiling, and we were up against the top, and there was no oak.” They also found that structural walls had been removed and part of the second floor was sagging. Removing 700 to 800 pounds of plaster and lathe during the renovation lifted some weight from the floor. Caleb Asher is renovating the building he purchased at 728 S. Kansas Ave. for Cashmere Popcorn’s location downstairs and his own business upstairs. The second floor, he said, hadn’t had electricity for years. “That downstairs level was at least something we could go in and work with,” he said. “We found the original tin ceilings to be in pretty good shape. While we’re not doing that now, there’s a long-range plan for all kinds of great character that’s still in that
building.” The small octagonal tiles originally put in the building were uncovered, Asher said, and Cashmere owners Bill and Angie Anderson worked to scrub off the glue and bring them back. Upstairs, though, is “really starting with a big open box,” Asher said. No HVAC, no electricity. He has been working with Westar Energy to figure out how to get the electricity issue figured out because changes were made years ago to the wires that affect nearby businesses. But the process of discovery in the building is fun, he said, including finding square nails in the basement, which were typical of construction in the early 1900s. Asher said he posted questions about the building on the Topeka History Geek Facebook page, and people found ads about the building, including one that advertising the “best popcorn and peanuts in town.” It was a fun connection to Cashmere Gourmet Popcorn, he said. At the beginning of the renovation process, Asher said, he is moving slowly so they don’t tear out anything valuable. “I’m taking the approach, I’m sure we’ll have a few surprises,” he said. “And if we don’t, that will be my surprise.”
Piles of rubble fill the building at 906 S. Kansas Ave. as it is deconstructed to bare bones.
20E | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | The Topeka Capital-Journal
2010 FILE PHOTOgraph/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL
Traffic flow through the downtown area is expected to change dramatically when a curve along Interstate 70 is removed with the reconstruction of the Polk-Quincy viaduct.
Next big twist will lose I-70’s curve City leaders expect transportation funding to redo downtown interstate access A significant change to traffic flow in the downtown area will occur when Interstate 70’s Polk-Quincy viaduct is reconstructed. Bill Fiander, director of the city of Topeka Planning Department, said the project, which has been in planning stages for more than five years, “has to get funded in the next round of the transportation program.” He said the city keeps hearing it will be done in five to 10 years. “We’re going to have some big changes when we redo I-70,” he said. “That will greatly improve circulation. It’ll be frontage-type roads that run along the interstate. You have less access points onto the interstate, but you have more points through your downtown along the interstate. I think from a circulation standpoint, it will make life easier. “It will make it more attractive to get around, and we’ll certainly beautify that stretch in a way that we don’t have right now. That’s a huge asset.” The changes being planned, which are detailed on the Kansas Department of Transportation website, include removing what Fiander called “that nasty
“ ...It’ll be frontage-type roads that run along the interstate. You have less access points onto the interstate, but you have more points through your downtown along the interstate.”
— Bill Fiander
BY THE NUMBERS
Miles that I-70 stretches across Kansas from Colorado to Missouri
Percent of traffic traveling I-70 near downtown Topeka that is trucks curve” on I-70 and the “suicide on-ramp” that comes onto the highway from S.W. 3rd Street with almost no merging lane. “It will get rid of a lot of danger in this, and I think people will be pleasantly surprised when they use it and feel safe using it,” he said. “The whole impetus is to take out that curve and straighten it out.” Fiander said the plans will create a full exit at S.W. Topeka Boulevard and 1st Street where drivers will be able to get on and off four different ways.
Coming from the west, he said, people currently must exit at 1st Street and weave toward S.W. Topeka Boulevard. The planned project will let drivers get off at Topeka Boulevard and then stay on a frontage road that will swing all the way around to the Topeka Performing Arts Center, for instance. Some on-ramps and exits, which are too close to each other, will be eliminated. Fiander said the project will be split in two phases, with the first taking about two years.
The Topeka Capital-Journal | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | 21E
22E | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | The Topeka Capital-Journal
tion for downtown revitalization; Fast Forward committee.
Current title: Business development manager, Schendel Lawn & Landscape Role(s): Heartland Visioning executive director 2008 to 2014 when he helped form the revitalization project. Board member of Downtown Topeka Inc.
Current title: President and CEO, Midwest Health Inc. Role(s): Significant downtown investor who owns 16 buildings.
Current title: Owner, Briman’s Leading Jewelers Role(s): Chairman of Downtown Topeka Inc., private investor in Go Topeka, business owner.
Current title: Retired Role(s): Served 28 years in the Kansas House of Representatives, two years in the Kansas Senate and eight years as Topeka’s mayor; focused efforts on rejuvenating the downtown bar and music scene; renamed the city “Google” for a day in 2010.
Current title: Vice president, Midwest Housing Equity Group Role(s): Longtime active member of Downtown Topeka Inc.; worked on multiple downtown improvement projects, including collaborating with the Sons of American Legion on a life-sized statue of Harry W. Colmery for the plaza area of the 900 block of S. Kansas Avenue; a fundraiser for private investment downtown.
Current title: Trust officer, Capital City Bank Role(s): Developing the old Assumption School, S.W. 8th and Jackson, into 21 lofts and making other investments downtown.
Current title: Owner, Gizmo Pictures Role(s): President of the Jayhawk Theatre board; board member of Downtown Topeka Inc.; renovated his office building at 112 S.E. 8th St., where Gizmo is located, along with Juli’s Bistro and Prairie Glass Art Studio.
Debra and Randy Clayton
Current titles: Randy Clayton, founder, co-owner and a principal at Clayton Financial Services Inc.; Debra Clayton, president, co-owner and a principal at Clayton Financial Services Role(s): Active with DTI and the Chamber to promote downtown. Debra Clayton was DTI secretary and treasurer; worked to promote the downtown historic district, walking door to door to visit each business downtown; president of the Chamber 2016 board of directors.
These Topekans made moves that mattered for revitalizing city's core In talking with a variety of people and soliciting opinions, The Topeka Capital-Journal compiled this list of 30 people who have worked to make downtown Topeka successful.
Current title: President, Federico Consulting Inc., executive director of Leadership Kansas Role(s): Downtown investor, made downtown key focus through Leadership Kansas, previously owned Tucker’s Bar & Grill at 8th and S. Kansas, co-owns 805 S. Kansas Ave., and serves on DTI board.
Current title: Co-founder, Advisors Excel; owner and founder, AIM Strategies LLC Role(s): Downtown investor, including developing the Cyrus Hotel and Holliday Public House.
Current title: Owner, Celtic Fox and Sixth
Current title: Program manager, Security Benefit Group Role(s): Former city councilwoman focused her efforts on the downtown area and its rejuvenation, member of DTI, downtown investor and lives in the building she owns.
Current title: YWCA chief executive officer Role(s): Wagnon, a former Topeka mayor and Kansas secretary of revenue, served Topeka in her political roles, as well as in various other roles within the community; many efforts as chairwoman of the TurnAround Team, chairwoman of the board of the Corporation for Change and participation in several other downtown organizations that helped to continue and expand the city’s downtown revitalization movement.
Current title: Market president, U.S. Bank Role(s): Board chairwoman of Go Topeka; vice chairwoman of Downtown Topeka Inc.; raised funds and works on numerous downtown revitalization projects.
Current title: Founding partner, Architect One Role(s): Downtown investor; works on renovation and design downtown with multiple clients.
Current title: Co-owner, Stephen Smith Images; director of membership development, Downtown Topeka Inc. Role(s): Lives downtown in a loft, works through DTI to promote downtown.
Current title: Vice president, division director at Bartlett & West Inc. Role(s): On the board of directors for the chamber, served five years as director of city of Topeka’s public works and in other public works positions during times when downtown infrastructure was a focus.
Current title: President and CEO, Parrish Hotel Corp. and Parrish Management Corp. Role(s): Downtown investor through the Ramada Hotel and Convention Center and Jayhawk Tower.
Current title: Executive vice president, Private Bank at BOK Financial Role(s): Downtown investor through 900 Kansas LLC and other capital projects downtown, including M&D Classics Storage LLC. Current title: Chairman, president and CEO of Capitol Federal Role(s): Topeka Business Hall of Fame inductee; led the decision to reinvest in downtown through a $16 million renovation project at Capitol Federal; led private investment fundraising for downtown with a $500,000 donation.
Current title: Partner, KS Commercial Real Estate Inc. Role(s): Numerous civic boards and activities, including the Fast Forward committee, Downtown Topeka Inc. and the commercial investment division of the Topeka Board of Realtors, working to improve and expand the downtown area.
Current title: Owner, Schwerdt Design Group Inc. Role(s): Designer and downtown investor; worked on projects including the Great Overland Station; nine Schwerdt Design Group employees are Fast Forward members.
Current title: City manager Role(s): Has worked to increase development and promote effective business practices in the city for the past four years.
Current title: Architect, head of Friends of the Free State Capitol Role(s): Spurred the renovation of Constitution Hall, the first stone building built in Topeka, that started in 2011; member of Downtown Topeka Rotary.
Wendy Wells Avenue Ballroom Role(s): Downtown contractor, developer and restaurant owner; renovated the I.O.O.F. building that houses the Sixth Avenue Ballroom, 117 S.W. 6th.
Current title: President and CEO, Downtown Topeka Inc. Role(s): Longtime Topeka businessman active in downtown redevelopment, involved in the downtown visioning process in 2008.
Current title: President, Architect One Inc.; chairman, city of Topeka Planning Commission Role(s): Downtown investor with the renovation of Architect One building at 906 S. Kansas Ave.; has created plans to renovate many downtown projects, including the Cyrus Hotel.
Michael Wilson Current title: Topeka councilwoman Role(s): Racked up a laundry list of items to help with downtown revitalization, including work with downtown planning, improving city aesthetics in the area and supporting private arts. Current title: Executive director, Heartland Visioning Role(s): Spurred downtown revitalization through the visioning process and bringing parties together. Current title: Topeka councilman; technology strategist and CEO, Jensen Communications LLC Role(s): Founding member of Think Big Topeka; participated in various downtown projects, including collaboration with the Capital District Project to lay the founda-
*It was impossible to come up with a comprehensive list of the people who have affected downtown Topeka’s revitalization. Not every role those listed have had is included and, certainly, not everyone who had an impact is named.
INSIDE: Topekans weigh in: What's next for downtown?
Major companies lead way in Topeka, nationally
Concrete and steel: Artistic touches add personality
Potential exists far beyond one strip of street
24E | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | The Topeka Capital-Journal
Success spurs big question: What’s next? Plaza, retail, riverfront development key to continued momentum, leaders say
2015 FILE PHOTO/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL
Finishing the riverfront park will be an important step in continuing momentum in downtown revitalization, leaders say.
Significant public and private investment downtown raises the question: “What’s next?” Here are thoughts from area leaders about the needed mix of businesses, changes and issues to consider as Topekans contemplate what is needed to build on current successes and create a vibrant downtown environment. Pat Michaelis, vice president and business development officer, central region, for Midwest Housing Equity Group: “The gathering place that they’re talking about, the downtown plaza, I think that’s key. A combination of restaurants and bars is good, but I also think we need a pretty nice shot of retail that’s interesting and fun. We need lofts and we need people living there in the downtown. “The other thing, and I don’t know where this enters into this, but you certainly get in a chickenand-egg situation, but some sort of a major attraction,” he said. “I’ve heard minor league baseball team, or some event or something. The riverfront park certainly would help. It’s probably not going to be one great big grand slam home-run thing that does it. It’s just going to be a lot of different pieces and components that in the aggregate make it successful.” John Hunter, executive director, Heartland Visioning: “Everything is complex. Everything takes time. We need to be flexible and positive and just keep pushing. The critical component for the next three to five years is those of us who are responsible must keep driving these projects. We must show the community that we can finish our riverfront, that we can put in the Oregon Trail Park, complete our downtown, with restaurants and new businesses into those vacant buildings.” As the downtown renovates, Hunter said a wholecity view needs to be taken, with other languishing neighborhoods and business areas receiving attention. He also said the riverfront area is “absolutely” tied into downtown’s success. “There are two big undertakings for visioning this year,” he added. “We started last year with our awareness campaign, we are ‘Topeka Proud.’ That seems to be resonating with people. The other thing that we’re working on, is to recruit to TopekaShawnee County first. That’s based all around this idea that at some point, when we have corporations in town that have policy that says you don’t even offer anything about housing in Topeka, you show things in Lawrence and Kansas City. Almost onethird of the total number of workforce people live out of our city. There’s got to be ways of stemming that flow.” Neil Dobler, former city of Topeka director of Public Works, currently at Bartlett & West as vice president, division director: “If we’re going to grow out any more, we need new water plants, new wastewater plants, those things are
horribly expensive to start from scratch. You … get very far away from Kansas Avenue, and there’s just blocks and blocks of parking lots, and vacant lots and the infrastructure is all there. Progressive cities are seeing that and taking those areas and, call it whatever you want, and they’re enticing people to move back to those areas.” “It’s going to take some kind of government incentive, and I like TIF (tax increment financing) districts where you simply look at the tax base that’s there now, and if it’s improved, your tax base
“I’ve heard minor league baseball team, or some event or something. The riverfront park certainly would help.”
— Pat Michaelis
goes up a whole bunch and you use some portion of that to help finance redevelopment for a period of time. It’s a win-win. It helps redevelopment and then ultimately when the incentives run out, the city and the county and the school districts, they have a much bigger tax base right there.” Mark Burenheide, a trust officer at Capital City Bank: Like others, Burenheide points to the need for restaurants, but he disagrees with a lot of talk about the need for a grocery store to support residential development. “I don’t see that as a necessity for the residential living downtown. I’ll tell you why. Even if there was a grocery store two blocks away, they’re still going to drive their car there, and load their car with groceries and drive the two blocks home. It’s not like New York. The Walgreens at 10th and Topeka is open 24 hours a day, and they have all the basics.” Burenheide agreed that a unique grocery store, like Trader Joe’s, would pull people downtown. Matt Pivarnik, chief executive officer and president of the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce: “I think this city has made such a great investment, and I think DTI has created such a great strategy, that I feel like we’ve done our jobs in building the bones of the avenue in downtown. I think the next logical step is that the private sector is going to do their part next, and then for us, as the economic development organization, it’s time to start showing properties in downtown and moving jobs downtown. “I don’t think it’ll ever be on autopilot. I think we have to watch very closely. From the ’70s to now, there have been evolutions of downtown. Do you remember the outdoor walking malls? We have to pay attention because what happened is retail changed and the evolution of downtowns changed, and most communities, it caught them by surprise.”
The Topeka Capital-Journal | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | 25E
26E | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | The Topeka Capital-Journal
BY THE NUMBERS
2016 appraised value of the buildings facing S. Kansas Avenue along the 600 to 900 blocks: 600 block: $8.14 million 700 block: $17.46 million 800 block: $8.83 million 900 block: $9.42 million The building with the biggest increase in appraised value from 2008 to 2016, based on Shawnee County tax valuations (each block): 900 block: 900 S. Kansas Ave. increased its value 987.4 percent, jumping from $227,000 to $2,468,500
Nine men met on Dec. 5 near what is now Crane and S. Kansas Avenue to establish Topeka, with their agreement later forming the Topeka Association
800 block: 820 S. Kansas Ave. jumped 270.3 percent, from $91,900 to $355,500 700 block: 719 S. Kansas Ave. jumped 1,460.2 percent, from $1,343,730 to $2,994,600 600 block: 601 S. Kansas Ave. jumped 121.2 percent, from 136,400 to $323,600 Source: Shawnee County Appraiserâ€™s Office
CONSTRUCTION DATES Era 1855-1879 1880-1899 1900-1919 1920-1929 1930-1959 1960-1979 1980-2009
Total Percent 3 1 57 26 71 32 37 17 13 6 26 12 14 6 221 100 Source: 2012 survey, Rosin Preservation
ing 18a5ll, t5 st build e d l o e h was
H , Avenue titution s s n a s o n C a r S. K Yea ing on d n a t s l stil built
Year the Board of Trade was founded in Topeka; it later would become the Greater 33 Topeka Chamber of Commerce Downtown restaurants , 2 4 o f which are 560 locally Active properties in the Topeka owned; and nine are Business Improvement District chains
City of Topeka incorporated on Feb . 14 with Cyrus K. Holliday as mayor
0 8 7 , 9 2 8 , $5 008 to 2016 in appraised dollar
Increase from 2 0th Street 1 to th 6 m o fr s g in d value of buil e facing Kansas Avenu 6
of people workin g
Days until band Kansas plays on Kansas Avenue
35,000 Approximate n
Vince Fryeâ€™s birthday each June
Approximate number of people living downtown
1964 was founded
Topeka Inc. Year Downtown
Vehicles per day trav near downtown Topeka
of the city of Topeka
$18 Million dollars committed by Capitol Federal to downtown headquarters
Rooms plann ed for the Cy rus Hotel, wh will span seve ich ral lots in the 900 block of S. Kansas Ave nue and is an ticipated to be finished in spring 2018
88.7 Percent of Topekans with high school education or above
The Topeka Capital-Journal | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | 27E
28E | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | The Topeka Capital-Journal
SAMANTHA FOSTER/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL
A crosswalk arch will connect two pavilions: the Clayton Financial Pavilion and the U.S. Bank Pavilion.
Downtown Topeka gets some personality Parks, pavilions, statues and medallions among touches bringing flair to downtown
Downtown investors, businesses and organizations have banded together and poured more than $3.4 million into the funds for the beautification of downtown. These donations helped kick off many downtown projects, like pocket parks, commemorative statues and medallions that are popping up across the downtown area. Here is a look at those projects and what is to come.
of 7th and S. Kansas Avenue. The park also will include dog statues, a stone map signifying Hill’s global presence, characteristics of the company engraved in stone and more.
Nine pocket parks eventually will dot the downtown area. Two were completed in May, and others will be completed this summer.
Westar Energy Pocket Park: The first of the eight pocket parks to be completed, this park on 8th and S. Kansas Avenue has solar panels fashioned above it that collect and send energy to the Westar solar energy grid. It also includes an LED light display at night and is a Wi-Fi hot spot. There is space for performances in the park, and multiple free concerts have been held there.
Downtown Rotary Club: This pocket park, named “Topeka’s Intersection of Freedom,” will be on the 400 block of S. Kansas Avenue. The park will include a history of Constitution Hall and the Brown v. Board of Education case. There also will be a Rotary information tower that will honor donors, along with benches, a boardwalk and an informational video board. Fidelity State Bank & Trust Pocket Park: Fidelity’s pocket park will be a venue to hold performances, with seating areas and platforms for a stage. The entire park will be covered, making it more suitable for a public event space. The park will be outside Fidelity State Bank at 600 S. Kansas Ave. and will include a medallion of the coin from the year the Chandler banks were started in Kansas.
Bartlett & West Pocket Park: The pocket park at 8th and S. Kansas Avenue opened April 18. This park includes an interactive light show, artificial turf and a stainless steel sculpture called “Solar Flair.” There is also a largerthan-life pencil in the park that incorporates the light display and reads on one side, “And the skies are not cloudy all day,” a line from Kansas’ state song.
Mars Pocket Park: On the west side of 6th and S. Kansas Avenue, Mars Chocolate’s pocket park will include an interactive and colorful sculpture that incorporates mesh seating for the community to enjoy. The five core values of Mars Chocolate North America will be inlaid in stone surrounding the sculpture. Capitol Federal Pocket Park: This pocket park, which will be at 7th and S. Kansas Avenue, will incorporate a fountain display and open seating. The fountain will feature a miniature replica of the Statehouse dome and will light up at night. The park also will include a medallion of a coin from 1893, the year Capitol Federal was founded. Hill’s Pet Nutrition Pocket Park: A fountain displaying the bond between humans and animals will be on display at the Hill’s pocket park, on the west side
Security Benefit Pocket Park: This park is marked by the lone kinetic sculpture, “Chief II,” standing in the park’s future destination at 906 S. Kansas Ave. The sculpture was erected May 13, and the rest of the park, which will include water buffalo sculptures and an interactive water feature, is soon to follow. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Pocket Park: This is projected to be a trainthemed park with historical and educational elements, as well as a statue of Cyrus K. Holliday, who founded the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. There will be mini-trains the children can ride on and shaded seating for parents. The park will be constructed at 9th and S. Kansas Avenue.
The four downtown pavilions, like the pocket parks, are sponsored by local companies or organizations.
The Topeka Capital-Journal | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | 29E
Capper. Capper established the Capper fund in 1920 and the Capper Foundation in 1934, which helps children with disabilities and is still around today.
Clayton Financial Services Pavilion: On the east side of 7th and S. Kansas Avenue, a midblock pavilion will consist of a life-size interactive chess set. It will include inlaid tables for those wanting to play chess or checkers. There will be seating, and the area will be covered by artistic shade awnings. U.S. Bank Pavilion: Another midblock pavilion will be constructed on the west side of 7th and S. Kansas Avenue, opposite the chess pavilion, and will provide stone seating and a water feature for public viewing. The stone water feature will be illuminated at night and have water cascading from its top, as well as water coming up from the ground.
Harry Colmery Memorial Park Pavilion: This midblock pavilion will be on the west side of 9th and S. Kansas Avenue and will celebrate the author of the G.I. Bill, Harry Colmery, as well as all veterans who have served. This pavilion, sponsored by American Legions of Kansas, will include life-size statues, flagpoles, decorative shrubbery and more. Midwest Health–Schwerdt Design–McPherson Construction Pavilion: Three businesses teamed up to sponsor the midblock pavilion on the west side of the 800 block of S. Kansas Avenue, which will include a map of Topeka’s growth. Started from the city’s beginning, the map will document Topeka’s development to the present date and incorporate interesting visual features.
Charles Curtis: This statue of famous Kansas politician Charles Curtis is being created by Elizabeth Zeller, of Kansas City, Kan. Curtis had a lengthy and successful political career, serving in the Senate and as Senate Majority Leader, as well as serving as 31st vice president of the United States during Herbert Hoover’s administration. Brown v. Board: For her third piece in the downtown feature, Janet Zoble will create a sculpture honoring the 1954 landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. The Supreme Court decision in this case ended racial segregation in public schools.
Area artists were selected to create statues of historic figures and sculptures that will be scattered through downtown Topeka from the 600 to 1000 blocks of S. Kansas Avenue. Eleven statues have been planned, pending funding, according to Downtown Topeka Inc. Following is a list of the six statues that have been commissioned to date.
Ichabod Washburn: Constructed by Topeka artist Janet Zoble, this life-size rendering of Ichabod Washburn is located in the 900 block of S. Kansas Avenue. The statue is cast in bronze metal. Washburn, a businessman and philanthropist, was one of the first investors in Washburn University in 1868, which was then called Lincoln College. Harry Colmery: Janet Zoble is also contracted to create a life-size statue of Harry Colmery, a World War I veteran who fathered the G.I. Bill of Rights and died in 1979. This statue will be a part of the Harry Colmery Memorial Pavilion at 9th and S. Kansas Avenue, sponsored by the American Legion of Kansas. Cyrus K. Holliday: Joe Skeeba, a Lawrence resident, is commissioned to create a life-size statue of the founder of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, Cyrus K. Holliday. The statue will be placed in the BNSF pocket park located at 10th and S. Kansas Avenue. Arthur Capper: This life-size statue, which will be created by John Forsythe, of Reading, will depict politician, newspaperman and children’s advocate Arthur
Medallions and Arch
Large medallions, of four different designs, will be placed on each corner from 6th to 10th streets downtown for a total of 16 medallions, including two incorporated in the pocket parks and one centered on the crosswalk arch. One medallion will have a list including each of the donors involved with the downtown beautification project. Crosswalk Arch: A midblock crossing display, which has already been built, will connect the Clayton Financial Services pavilion to the U.S. Bank Pavilion on the opposite side of the street. The crossway arch is a metal structure that doubles as a crosswalk but is high enough to accommodate various vehicles traveling beneath it.
30E | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | The Topeka Capital-Journal
DOWNTOWN OKLAHOMA CITY INC.
Oklahoma City's downtown is often cited as a successful revitalization effort.
Big-money thinkers, millennials keys to revitalizations In Topeka, Capitol Federal among big companies with long-term commitment to downtown The factors pushing success of downtown revitalizations have changed since expert Christopher B. Leinberger, a metropolitan land-use strategist, wrote a 2005 white paper for the Brookings Institution about the 12 steps necessary to save downtowns. Leinberger said he is updating that information. “The original paper outlined what I would call a more organic process, where many, many people are playing a role,” Leinberger said. “One of the big issues is that all of those people, none of them want to go first. When I’ve been involved personally with downtowns as a developer, we always have the expression, ‘OK, we’re all going to hold hands, count to three and jump at once.’ ” But in the new model Leinberger is exploring, he is focusing on the role of what he calls a catalytic developer. It is a business or person that decides, for one reason or another, that it wants to see downtown revitalized. “They put hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars into the effort,” he said. “They lead off, early in the process, with
TAKE TWO What derails developments? Losing momentum before you achieve critical mass, said revitalization expert Christopher B. Leinberger. What is critical mass? “It fits in the category of pornography,” he said. “You know it when you see it. We’re trying our damnedest at George Washington (University) and Brookings to figure that out. But once you achieve critical mass, it basically goes into a new phase. The social-science word for it is autocatalytic. What is more popular use would be that it starts an upward spiral. “Just as our downtowns, 20 to 30 years ago, were in the grip of a downward spiral, no matter what you did, there is nothing no matter how good it was that would turn it around, with an upward spiral, the same dynamic works. As you add more good stuff, it just makes everything spin faster. At that point, it’s pretty much unstoppable.” thousands of new jobs coming into the downtown.” He pointed to Detroit’s revitalization and the role of Quicken founder Dan Gilbert, who is pouring dollars into saving that city’s core. Although one reason Gilbert got
into downtown investing was that he had a great connection to the city and “hated to see what it had become,” it also was for his company’s sake, Leinberger said. Initially, before a decision to relocate downtown, Quicken was in the suburbs.
But secondary was the concern that even his own children didn’t want to work for Quicken in the suburbs, where they called it “boring,” Leinberger said. As a high-tech company, Gilbert was concerned about recruitment. In Leinberger’s 2005 paper, office and job creation tended to happen last in the downtown revitalization process, with entertainment districts and residential components coming first. But today, he is seeing a shift toward bringing major companies, with large employee numbers, in first. “And that’s changing the very dynamics and speed, and pushing the fast-forward button on these downtown turnarounds,” he said. Although Topeka’s revitalization efforts aren’t being led by a major corporate relocation downtown, they have been spurred by decisions of companies like Capitol Federal to stay downtown. “Capitol Federal has had a presence in the Topeka downtown since 1893,” said president and CEO John Dicus. “Back in Continues on Page 31E
The Topeka Capital-Journal | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | 31E
Midwest downtown revitalization snapshots Oklahoma City
DOWNTOWN LINCOLN association
Festivals and events draw thousands of people to downtown Lincoln, Neb. Continued from Page 30E 2009-10, when we were looking at needing to do some things to the building based on the age of it, we had different options that were available. Our home has always been down here, and we ended up taking on the project of remodeling our home office here and made a significant investment in redoing our building. The downtown is important to us.” The company spent $18 million to stay downtown, and it is that kind of decision, according to Advisors Excel partner Cody Foster, that isn’t talked about enough. “They could have easily moved their office, and they spent a ton renovating and making a big investment down there,” Foster said. But Foster himself, along with Topekan Jim Klausman and other investors, fits into Leinberger’s category of locals investing heavily to save downtowns. For Foster, the need for a vibrant downtown factors into employee recruitment. Private investment made by such companies as Westar and Capitol Federal can be the tipping point to successful revitalizations, Leinberger said. In downtown Chattanooga, Tenn., for instance, Leinberger added, for every $1 of public money spent, there was $13 of private money. “That’s just the way it has to be. It’s basically a doing well while doing good kind of investment,” he said of private money going downtown. “They want to achieve great financial returns, but they also want to do something that benefits their town that they have an emotional connection with.” It is a smart business investment, Leinberger said. Gilbert, for instance, needs to draw young people to work for Quicken, and they need a vibrant downtown, surveys have found. “We looked at 500 corporate relocations over the last five years that went to a walkable urban place, particularly a downtown, and looked at what their motivation for doing this was,” he said. “The No. 1 reason for this was to recruit the millennial worker. The No. 2 reason was part of the branding of the firm. If you’re in a downtown, walkable urban place, you’re considered hip and cool and 21st century. If you’re in a business park, you’re considered fuddy-duddy.”
Jane Jenkins, president and CEO of Downtown Oklahoma City Inc., shares insights on revitalization. Key: Passing the MAPS program in 1993, a $350 million sales tax initiative focused on revitalizing downtown. Tragic boost: The horrific bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City brought the community together, focused it on needs and brought in federal dollars to rebuild. Business Improvement District: Created in about 2000, the BID in turn created Downtown Oklahoma Jane Jenkins City, which brought professional management to the renovation process. Private vs. public investment: Private dollars followed public investment, “hands down.” The 1993 MAPS generated $5 billion in private investment. Challenges: Getting people on the same page and breaking down the silos. It helped that OKC had management consistency with three mayors who have had basically the same vision. Hard work: “I’ve been working in downtown revitalization for 30 years,” Jenkins said. “People think this just cropped out of nowhere.” Tipping point: Development of housing. Also, “I think that there has to be political will and a commitment to the downtown. You have to have that as part of your vision, that we are going to do this first.”
Todd Ogden, deputy director of Downtown Lincoln Association, addresses revitalization’s challenges. Back in the day: In the late 1980s, Lincoln had 1 million square feet of retail space. Significant: In 2010, the city approved a bond issue for an arena downtown, creating a new entertainment district and sparking development. Investment: $1.3 billion has been invested in Lincoln’s downtown, and Ogden said most is private dollars. Positives: Having the university near the downtown brings Todd Ogden 28,000 students to the area. “Our move to the Big 10 sparked developers interested in our area, as well,” he said. Planning: In 2005, Downtown Lincoln and the city invested in a downtown master plan, which focused the efforts to move forward and paved the way
for the next decade. Challenge: Getting a mix of businesses. “We don’t have a lot of good soft retail in our downtown,” he said. The area isn’t heavily residential, Ogden added. There were about 2,500 residents about 10 years ago, and now there are closer to 5,000 or 6,000. Big business: Software company Hudl is one of the downtown’s largest, growing employers and it invested in a headquarters. The downtown has seen a “hit” on businesses that don’t want as much office space because of fewer employees. “The office market is changing,” he said. Increasing: Public space is expanding downtown, with a civic plaza area, a railyard area and public space for entertainment. That leads to more events.
Matt Pivarnik, president and CEO of Downtown Topeka Inc., was at Tulsa’s chamber as that city revitalized its downtown. In 1999: “Literally, by 5:15 every evening, you could shoot a cannon down our main street, and you didn’t have any worry about hitting anybody,” he said. “It was a little bit almost embarrassing when we brought visitors, whether they were economic development prospects or convention and visitors bureau prospects and they stayed in our downtown hotels; they would go out to stroll like they would any market, and they wouldn’t find any restaurants. It was really just very dead.” Urban sprawl: The bane of many downtowns, urban sprawl decimated the central business district. Private investment: When you look back, there was Matt Pivarnik one person who took a chance on downtown and started the upswing. “What was the major blessing for Tulsa is that really if you go back and look, there was one private sector businessperson that I would say took a chance on downtown Tulsa,” Pivarnik said. “He opened a place called McNally’s Pub, an Irish bar and grill, and something magical happened. People just followed. He had a rough year or two, but he was the leader.” The man now owns more than 30 restaurants. Bringing crowds: Opening the BOK Center, or Bank of Oklahoma Center, an arena and event center, in downtown was critical. A minor league ballpark “right smack dab in downtown” also was important. Private vs. public: In Tulsa, investment began primarily as private, followed by public, he said. Lessons learned: “You know, probably, I would say we spread things out a little bit (geographically) in the beginning. Now long-term, that was good for us, because it was like a mall concept,” he said, but added that it took a while to fill in stores between BOK and the ballpark. Ultimately, though, the infill occurred.
32E | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | The Topeka Capital-Journal
THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL
Developers call the Kansas Statehouse a major draw and opportunity to bring additional visitors to downtown Topeka, which extends far beyond S. Kansas Avenue.
Core of downtown Topeka stretching its limits City says plenty remains to develop while some look to surrounding blocks for opportunities “You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares, and go downtown.” The words to the popular “Downtown” anthem by Petula Clark are almost guaranteed to bring the lyrical melody to mind. But when area residents consider Topeka’s downtown, what exactly is included? While many think of the “downtown” as S. Kansas Avenue, the Celtic Fox, Topeka Blueprint and other iconic businesses on the side streets would be sure to argue that point. Vince Frye, president and CEO of Downtown Topeka Inc., said the typical boundaries of downtown, as set by the Downtown Business Improvement District, are from S.W. Topeka Boulevard
east to S.E. Adams Street and then from the Kansas River to S.W. 12th Street. That is a much larger area than many people probably expect. Frye said he sees potential for the district to expand as downtown develops, and he is hearing interest in areas off S. Kansas Avenue as investors, business people and individuals see what is happening to revitalize downtown. The reality, said downtown investor and architect Michael Wilson, is that the entire area plays a role in creating the energy of a downtown, especially the Statehouse building. “You can’t overlook the Capitol,” he said. His Architect One partner, Scott Gales, added: “It’s a player. The visitor’s
center — the importance is probably unrealized yet.” The potential to draw the thousands of people who come through the visitor’s center each year to downtown for walking tours and to visit stores is excellent, Gales said. But right now, as most buildings along S. Kansas Avenue have sold and many are being remodeled, even investing in the northern end of the avenue seems a little risky to Wilson. He purchased “the old, white, ugly” building at 101 N. Kansas Ave., near the foot of the Kansas Avenue Bridge. He and Mike Fox, owner of the Celtic Fox, 118 S.W. 8th St., have bought almost an entire block in that area.
“It’s tough to justify spending $4 or $5 million on that corner today,” Wilson said. “That’s where the next wave of investment can come,” Gales added. But Fox said he has had success in renovating the building on that block at 115 N. Kansas Ave., where he put in two lofts and turned one of the other buildings into M&D Classics, for car storage. “We’ve been taking some chances, but they’ve all seemed to work so far,” Fox said. Fox, who invested in downtown 14 years ago by opening the Celtic Fox, said he sees potential for expanding outside Continues on Page 33E
The Topeka Capital-Journal | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | 33E
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the boundaries of what is considered the downtown area today, although it is probably some years off. Creating more residential options downtown, which will significantly increase traffic, could be done by taking out some of the sparse or dilapidated neighborhoods nearby, he said. Pointing to the area between 6th and 10th streets, to the west, he said there are areas around Topeka High School and Grace Cathedral that could become
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Continued from Page 32E
— Scott Gales
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“(The Capitol)’s a player. The visitor’s center — the importance is probably unrealized yet.”
— Mike Fox
Downtown Business Improvement District
“We’ve been taking some chances, but they’ve all seemed to work so far.”
gated communities featuring smaller, high-end homes. “The infrastructure is there: Think of the tax revenues it would bring in, and everybody that I’ve ever talked to that is my age or getting close to it are thinking the same thing,” said Fox, 64, adding that most of them figure they have 20 years of life left, and they don’t want to spend it mowing lawns and taking care of big houses. “They can extend their life. I’m thinking that all that mowing is going to cost me five or six years,” he said, laughing. Plans like the one Fox pitched may be years from happening and may not even fit eventually with the direction of the downtown area. Bill Fiander, director of the city of Topeka Planning Department, said there is plenty of space for development within the boundaries defined by the downtown BID. “That’s still a pretty big area,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of infill areas, redevelopment opportunities, within that area. I see no reason, certainly in the foreseeable future, and I’m talking five or 10 years at least, that we can’t improve that bounded area before we start to push out further.” Fiander said the only limitation, in his view, is the efficiency of parking in that core area. “I think that’s something we need to have on our radar to address,” he said. “If everything got occupied today in that area, we have more than enough parking. But if you looked at it on a blockby-block basis, and you look at maybe from 6th to 10th along Kansas, not everyone’s going to be able to park on the block that they’re working or living in.” But that may be part of a shift in thinking that may need to occur as downtown renovations push forward, he added. Most redeveloped cities create a more walkable area, where people park cars and then spend the day on foot, something Topekans may not be used to doing. Many expect to park on the block near where they are going. “That is, I hate to say it, but that’s kind of a small-town or smaller-town culture, and as you grow as a city, you have to take on those aspects,” he said.
Map Produced On: May 22, 2007 Map Revised On: July 10,2012 Map Printed On: July 10, 2012 Map Produced By: David E. Fish Engineering Tech II (785)368-3052 email@example.com
City of Topeka, Kansas GIS Data Disclaimer While the City of Topeka, Kansas makes every effort to maintain and distribute accurate information, NO WARRANTIES AND/OR REPRESENTATIONS OF ANY KIND are made regarding information, data or services provided. In no event, shall the City of Topeka, Kansas be liable in any way to the users of this data. Users of this data shall hold the City of Topeka, Kansas harmless in all matters and accounts arising from the use and/or accuracy of this data.
Legend Interstate Streets BID
CITY OF TOPEKA
34E | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | The Topeka Capital-Journal
photographs by JOSIAH ENGSTROM
Josiah and Andrea Engstrom’s loft is a popular stop for friends who are downtown attending public events. Their family enjoys living in the heart of the city.
Downsizing to live downtown Toddlers and teens enthusiastic about life in a loft
The downtown loft of Josiah and Andrea Engstrom can be picked out easily from street level. A bicycle, chained to their fourth-floor patio, is outlined in lights that brighten the night sky. The couple moved downtown this past February, bringing with them two teenagers and two toddlers to live in 1,235 square feet. They downsized from a 3,600-squarefoot home. Andrea Engstrom said the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” helped her tremendously, and she used the KonMari Method pioneered by author Marie Kondo. “I think I did 11 truckloads to Goodwill and to the dump in my pickup truck in the few weeks before we moved,” Josiah Engstrom said. “I think it was a mindset. I think we were looking forward to something really exciting and good, so it didn’t feel like a big sacrifice at all,” Andrea Engstrom said. “It more felt like a breath of fresh air. It feels like losing weight or paying off debt.” Since the two first met and “dreamed about what our life would look like in 20 years,” Josiah Engstrom said they wanted to live in a loft downtown. They were
Josiah and Andrea Engstrom frequently take their children to play on the nearby Statehouse grounds. Here, Azalea, 18 months, runs on the grass.
just going to open houses for fun when they saw the loft they now own. Andrea Engstrom, who has been involved in the Heartland Visioning process that pushed forward the downtown revitalization and served on the Capital District Project committee, said she loves downtown Topeka, and what it can become. “We just dream about what downtown could be and could look like,” she said, adding that she helped create the “Do It Downtown” initiative. “One of our first dates was downtown. We got engaged in front of the Break Room on Kansas Avenue,” she said of the love affair she and her husband have with the heart of the city. “It’s just been a part of our story all along the way.” The children are enthusiastic about their new residence, the couple said. “We take the kids, and we walk to the Capitol,” Josiah Engstrom said. “We have a huge green area where they can run around, and we throw the Frisbee. We ride our bikes all around downtown. The kids love it. The little ones love it. The teenagers love it. At our previous home, our big fancy home off 45th, I feel like none of the kids loved it.” Andrea Engstrom said they step right out their front door to get involved in downtown events, like the recent ShareFest and a car show. They visit the pocket parks that are being put in. Their loft was full on St. Patrick’s Day, with friends and family enjoying the parade and activities and stopping off at their place. “We get asked probably every week by other young families, ‘Is there anything available that you know of?’ ” Andrea Engstrom said. Their small patio, which opens off of the teenagers’ bedroom, has an excellent view of downtown and also of the welllit Jayhawk Tower sign. Josiah Engstrom would like to see more young people move into the downtown. Because of challenges getting loans and the cost, many loft owners in their building are older. None have children, he said. “I think you have to have young people downtown,” he said. “It’s an event destination. But how do you get people to do
The Engstroms stand on their balcony with the Jayhawk Tower sign in the background. life downtown? You go to any bigger city where they’ve taken an area that’s an old downtown and they’ve revitalized it, what’s it filled with? Young people.” He was quick to say he isn’t against older empty-nesters living downtown, of course. It is simply that often their lofts are vacant while they travel or live else-
where part of the year. “How does that create community? They’re just vacant homes that someone owns. When they do live here, you don’t see them,” he said. “Good people. Great people. But they don’t want to do the things that young people want to do that build up communities.”
INSIDE: Downtown advocate practices what she preaches
Cyrus Hotel’s opening will change image of area
One leader emerges as quiet force for change
Get the bird’s-eye view of downtown Topeka
36E | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | The Topeka Capital-Journal
Move reveals historical treasures, scenic pleasures Couple finds relief in shedding excess space, possessions after moving into downtown loft Stephen Smith’s portrait business has occupied the building at 931 S. Kansas Ave. since 1978. Until five years ago, it housed the business, and nothing was on the second floor. “It was really grungy and dirty and nasty — peeling plaster, and all those grungy antiquity looks that everybody loves,” Smith said, standing in the middle of the now-remodeled second floor where he and his wife, Edie, live. When the woman who owned the building died, the Smiths purchased it, and about five years ago, they decided to renovate the second floor into a loft and sell their three-bedroom, three-bath home. But even with losing thousands of square feet — the loft is about 1,300 square feet — Edie Smith said they have compared the space they used in their old home and believe they use more in the loft. After their children moved out, she said, they determined they didn’t need the space. “Probably the hardest part of it — it took us three years to get rid of our stuff to where we were downsized enough to do this,” she said. “But it’s liberating once you get that done. I think my shoulders went up about four feet. I got rid of all this junk. Now the challenge is to not refill. I’m kind of a minimalist. I don’t like clutter. I don’t like a lot of stuff. “You have to really be careful, or be prepared to rotate.” Renovations involved removing plaster on the walls that was inches thick, and underneath, the two found a treasure that is a focal point on the long wall that runs down the south side of their apartment. A brick wall with the word “Restaurant” was exposed, and part of the word “coal” can also be seen. Multicolored custom cabinets in the kitchen and glass block along the back wall are other features. Edie Smith said the building was erected in 1887 and at one time housed a general store that sold coal and featured a meat market and a restaurant. Her husband said there was a fresh seafood place on the second floor, a fresh oyster bar, in the 1920s. It was a gentleman’s club in the 1950s. The couple left pocket doors and used windows and doors they removed to create a walled area for their bedroom, Edie Smith said. One of their favorite features of the space are two rooftop patios — one right outside their loft door and another accessed by a spiral stairway to an area that gives them a long view along S. Kansas Avenue and, in another direction, all the way to Lake Shawnee. “The view from there is spectacular,” Edie Smith said. “There’s just such diversity in our views. If we hang out up there, it’s above the lights. It’s kind of above the fray, the noise. We don’t have bugs. It’s probably 10 degrees cooler than it is at street level.”
photographs by THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL
Stephen and Edie Smith moved downtown about five years ago. They love their smaller space and commitment to less “stuff.”
The upper deck of their downtown loft is a favorite spot for the Smiths, who love their view along S. Kansas Avenue.
Among the benefits of loft living is the cool breeze that accompanies the view. The Smiths said the temperature on the roof is often 10 degrees lower than that on the street.
The Topeka Capital-Journal | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | 37E
38E | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | The Topeka Capital-Journal
Vision brings people together Downtown Topeka Inc. leader Vince Frye relies on 40 years of community networking Vince Frye remembers the downtown Topeka of yesteryear. When he moved to the capital city in the 1970s, straight out of college, to work in advertising and marketing at Topeka area television stations, downtown was “the” place to hang out. “That’s where we came when we first moved here — downtown to see what our community offered, and all of the restaurants and theaters and stores that were present at that time,” he said. “This is where everybody came.” He built that television career in Topeka, spending 26 years working first for KSNT and then for WIBW, and watching as the city’s retail market shifted first to White Lakes Mall and then to West Ridge Mall and the Wanamaker corridor. As the years changed Topeka, they also shifted Frye’s career focus. In 1997, he left television to become a partner at the FryeAllen advertising agency, working with his wife, Dana Frye. That move forged his connection with the downtown area further, as the agency had its office downtown. Frye was on the board of directors of Downtown Topeka Inc. for years, serving as chairman in 2000. Frye also was part of the visioning process in 2008 that launched many plans for downtown. When he and Dana Frye closed the ad agency in 2012, he saw an ad in The Topeka Capital-Journal seeking the next president and CEO of Downtown Topeka Inc. “I realized there was a potential for a major renovation of downtown when I applied,” he said. “I thought that if, indeed, we could get this revitalization project up and running, it would be something that I could really, really get excited about and feel that perhaps my effort was making a difference that would be of benefit to this community for years to come.” He was hired, and his efforts have made a difference, area leaders said. “You know, probably the single word I’ll say about Vince is he’s a collaborator,” said Neil Dobler, who worked as project manager for the city of Topeka on downtown development efforts in the 1980s and then as public works director in the early 2000s. “He figures out how to get people to talk. When we started the whole ‘let’s get private investment,’ man, he was everywhere, talking, holding meetings. He’ll say,
DOWNTOWN LEADERS Executive directors of Downtown Topeka Inc.: Al Higgins..............................................................1964-1968 Clifford Warden......................................................1969-1970 Jim DeMarco..........................................................1970-1972 L.D. Peterson..........................................................1972-1977 Ed Shamburg.........................................................1978-1984 Joe Swalwell..........................................................1984-1998 Sally Shirley...........................................................1998-1999 Devin Sutherland...................................................1999-2003 Susan Mahoney.....................................................2003-2012 Vince Frye..........................................................2012-Present
THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL
Vince Frye's vision for a downtown Topeka returned to its glory days is well on its way under his leadership as president and CEO of Downtown Topeka Inc. ‘That’s part of my job.’ But it’s really much, much more than his job description there,” Dobler said. “He got people together. He got them to talk. He got them to commit dollars, and gave them credit. He’s kind of the whole package when it comes to promoting downtown.” Dobler referred to private investment from area businesses and organizations that donated about $3.4 million dedicated to beautification of downtown. Mike Morse, a downtown investor, partner in KS Commercial Real Estate Services Inc. and DTI board member, said Frye got everyone on board. “As soon as he was hired, Vince walked the avenue, spent half of his day, three days a week, on the avenue, meeting with people,” Morse said. “Tenants, owners, and just talking and talking about the plan and why it’s important and getting engaged
and listening. Vince is experienced. He’s been in marketing. He’s run multiple companies. He understands when a small business talks to him about challenges.” Morse said Frye’s contacts within the Topeka community also were helpful as he began guiding DTI, and his marketing background brought the necessary skills to the job. Frye and Edie Smith, DTI’s director of marketing and membership, are its only full-time employees, and they make a lot of moving parts work, with help from parttimer Hannah Burianek. “When Vince and Edie say they’re going to do something, it gets done,” Morse said. “He’s honest. If we can do it, we can; if we can’t, we can’t. And he’s going to tell you why.” Rob Briman, current chairman of the DTI board, said he is impressed with the
energy Frye exhibits that carries him through the day and then back downtown on weekends and many evenings. “He seems tireless. He is always having a meeting with somebody someplace and always driving toward the same goal, which is the promotion of our community and growth of our community,” Briman said. “He stepped in at exactly the right time and has brought a very needed amount of enthusiasm, coupled with all of the connections that he has, coupled with the staff that he has assembled to work with him.” A pattern emerges. Undoubtedly, Frye will give a slow shake of his head when he reads what others say about him and the leadership he brought to DTI. For him, it is all about the job, and that job is revitalizing downtown Topeka, something he hopes will benefit the entire city. “It’s a large city,” he said of Topeka, “so you have the amenities of a large city, but it’s small enough that you can make a difference. You can become involved and do something that you might not be able to do in a larger community and have the effect that you can in Topeka.” He remembers the early days, when he intended to spend just a short time in the capital city. “My plan was probably to get to maybe a year or two of experience in broadcasting and then move on,” he said. “Never did I expect to be in Topeka all this time. But, you know, it’s turned out to be a wonderful, wonderful place to have a career, a family, and it’s obviously something that was meant to be.”
The Topeka Capital-Journal | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | 39E
40E | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | The Topeka Capital-Journal
IMAGES BY ARCHITECT ONE
The Cyrus Hotel, which will be a boutique hotel, will incorporate historic facades with a modern tower.
An aerial view of the Cyrus Hotel shows the way the new project will fit in the downtown landscape.
Cyrus Hotel will meld into local culture Designers closing in on final plans for boutique hotel in 900 block of S. Kansas
Designers of the Cyrus Hotel are solidifying plans for the boutique hotel that will be on the 900 block of S. Kansas Avenue. David Bowd, CEO of Salt Hotels, which is consulting on design and management for the Cyrus Hotel, said intensive work has been done to create the hotel design, looking at the flow throughout the space, and determining what amenities will be included. In April, the design team announced two additional floors would be added to the building, bringing it to eight stories in height. Now it is down to the nittygritty of design. The team is coming close to a final set of plans, although Bowd was quick to disavow that idea. “I don’t think in building there’s any
such thing as a final set of plans,” he said. An important element in the hotel design is what Bowd called a “really sociable lobby,” where people will be comfortable working on their laptops or chatting with friends. In addition, it is important to make the Cyrus part of a “streetfront culture” in Topeka and encourage hotel guests to branch out into the neighborhood. “To me, a boutique hotel is about that very personal, intimate experience that goes back again to being connected into the local neighborhood,” he said. “It’s about understanding the local culture, the local neighborhood, the local people, and I think that’s what we will pride ourselves in from the hotel, is driving people into those local businesses as well.”
A key design element in a boutique hotel, Bowd said, is to create a feeling of space and intimacy at the same time. The large event space, which can be broken up into smaller spaces but at full size can handle crowds of at least 300, can’t ever feel like a convention hotel, he added. Scott Gales, principal at Architect One, said the hotel’s second floor will feature an exercise and fitness room and many suite-size hotel rooms for use by travelers who want more space. It also will have a small event space, located above the hotel bar, that will include the use of an outdoor space located above a guest drop-off area at the front of the hotel. The third floor will feature a large event suite that “will open up to this area that’s out on the avenue — they’ll have their own outdoor covered area (where)
they can watch parades or other events downtown, and they’ll have a privacy wall,” Gales said. Other highlights of the Cyrus Hotel design include: n Separate Kansas Avenue entrances that will lead to the lobby, the bar and a courtyard space with areas that can be used for events or guests. n SALT School, a 10-week training program, that will begin training employees to offer top-quality service. In-depth training will continue on the job. n Design details are critical, and Bowd refers to it as the “Diary of a Hotel Opening” in looking at the process. Experts focus on everything from how the chairs feel to when the bar should be open. n A 3,000-square-foot kitchen that will handle event and restaurant food.
The Topeka Capital-Journal | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | 41E
42E | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | The Topeka Capital-Journal
thad allton/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL
The Topeka Capital-Journal | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | 43E
44E | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | The Topeka Capital-Journal
Published on Jun 19, 2016
The Topeka Capital-Journal’s Downtown Topeka: Building Blocks edition celebrates the excitement of downtown revitalization coming to fruitio...