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Plans are in the works to give North Topeka a million-dollar facelift.
The people behind the project hosted a meeting tonight to hear from residents and business owners in that area.
Charlene Robuck and her husband Jim took a leap of faith 15 years ago, when they opened their jewelry store on Kansas Ave.
“When we came down here it was pretty bad, people told us customers wouldn’t come to see us,” Robuck says.
Since then, she says the North Topeka arts district known as NOTO has transformed.
“Businesses that were boarded up now have store fronts and occupants,” she says.
It’s the success in NOTO that has Topeka planning director Bill Fiander now targeting the deteriorating neighborhoods nearby.
“This is still a serious area that, seriously distressed area that we think that we can build off of what’s already happened over there,” Fiander says.
He adds that NOTO is really going to be the anchor of this area, so the key is to start work on neighborhoods like this one which are just about a block away.
“You can’t build off of weakness and, so there’s a strength over there now, so the strategy is to build off the strength. It’s going to be a lot easier to do that.”
At a public meeting to kick off the project, he looks for ideas from the community.
“Still people are a little hesitant to come to NOTO and to the area,” says Jean Gardner who owns an antique shop there. “They frequently ask is there problems down here and with it all being cleaned up and spruced up it’ll be wonderful.”
“They have something that nobody else has, and that is a competitive advantage over any neighborhood that we have in the city,” Fiander says.
Robuck it will make an already booming business area, that much better.
“Anytime you improve an area, everything improves,” she says.
$2 million is coming in to fund the project from the federal Stages of Resources Targeting program. The money goes to the North Topeka project as well as to revamp the Oakland area.