City manager stays focused on NOTO building demolition, updates other plans

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – The City of Topeka is moving forward with plans to demolish a building in the NOTO Arts District.

Acting City Manager Bill Cochran told 13 NEWS that council members advised him to “stay the course” for the building at 911 N. Kansas Ave. As such, he contracted with a company to have the building demolished. They could start working as early as April 1.

The move comes despite an appeal from the building’s co-owner, Dave Jackson, at the Topeka City Council meeting last week.

“The building is not unsafe, which has been alleged,” Jackson said at the time.

However, Cochran said the process is progressing.

“We think the city of Topeka has given him every opportunity to make improvements in this area,” Cochran said. “The demolition order has been in place for quite some time. Citizens and neighbors and everything in this area are just ready for this building to be completed.”

Cochran spoke to 13 NEWS while visiting the show Eye on Northeast Kansas. He also updated the status of the Polk-Quincy overpass project. After years of talking about it, he said people would soon see real work.

According to Cochran, demolition work will begin in April on the realigned road structures. It’s expected to take until June, after which people might see a break of about a year to allow the Kansas Historical Society time to dig and survey the site. Utility works would then begin next summer.

In the long term, the I-70 Safety Improvement Project through Downtown Topeka is expected to pave the way for new development.

“So much interstate traffic goes through there and through the city of Topeka, and it’s really going to make a nice gateway into downtown,” Cochran said, adding that it will also open a path along Rue Van Buren from the Capitol building. along the river, creating many possibilities for development.

Cochran also said the city believes it has an answer as to when work will resume on a seniors’ apartment site on the former Topeka State Hospital lot off of I-70 and of Macvicar. The project has raised concerns as the site has been inactive for the past year, with structures partially completed.

He said the project developer – Calamar – had recently submitted a 90-day construction plan to the city. Below, work on the parking areas should begin soon. He said the company had also submitted a technical report, showing that most of the existing structures and materials remained sound, although some flooring on the second floor will need to be replaced.

In January, Calamar’s vice president told 13 NEWS he hoped to complete construction by the third quarter of 2022, but, so far, work has yet to resume.

On the south side of town, demolition continues on the old White Lakes Mall. Cochran says the owners have a contract with a developer, although he couldn’t reveal information about what might be in the works.

“You’re going to see a lot of big things happen in this southern corridor of Topeka,” he said.

Next week, the city council begins discussions on its 10-year capital improvement plan, including how to use $35 million in US bailout funding.

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