TOPEKA (KSNT)- If you’ve walked through downtown Topeka lately you may have noticed several buildings have signs taped on to the windows that read, “Sold, new opportunities coming soon.”
KSNT News went digging and found out that 22 different properties in downtown Topeka have been bought within the last two year, predominantly by two local investors.
It’s no secret, vacant buildings have lined Kansas Avenue for years, but what many may not know is in the past those buildings that seemed to just collect dust were owned by investors who lived out of state, “So getting them in hands of local people is really significant,” Vince Frye, with Downtown Topeka Inc. said.
But how significant? To find out we went searching for one of the investors and found Jim Klausman, at the time he was out of town, but through email told us, “It would be premature for me to go into our thoughts,” Klausman said. “We will let everyone know once we get a better vision.”
Since that didn’t really explain what the plans were for all the properties, we asked Vince Frye with Downtown Topeka Inc. for a hint, “I think we will see a lot of development for residential opportunities,” Frye said. “We will also see new retail, and restaurants.”
Filling empty windows with customers, but could this all be too good to be true?
“I’ve lived in Topeka my whole life, and I saw the downfall of downtown, and it was sad to see, and you saw different efforts to bring it back, but this one is different,” Said Mary Jo Struttman, Owner of Moburts, a local shop that sells homemade oils, spices, and herbs.
Struttman believes in the changes taking place so much, she’s preparing to reopen her local business at a new address, downtown, “This is just the beginning,” Struttman said. “I think downtown is going to be the place to be in Topeka.”
We’re told the first, specific announcement of the plans for some of these properties could come as early as the first week of November.
Many of these projects are counting on the proposal to build a downtown plaza, a combination park and outdoor events center. The local investors are hopeful that the downtown plaza will be built, but according to Frye they plan on investing no matter what.
The Topeka city council is still debating how much city money to commit to that project.