Downtown Topeka building getting new life

Local News

TOPEKA (KSNT) – The second-tallest building in Topeka, only behind the Capitol, is getting a makeover. You may have noticed the Townsite Tower is getting a fresh coat of paint.

“Frankly we thought the old façade was ugly, it was dirty brown, and we think what we’re doing is better,” said Ken Schmanke, founder of K1 Realty, who owns the property.

The Townsite Tower is the former Bank of America building. Schmanke also owns the Townsite Plaza just east of the tower.

He and his team have been making improvements since he bought the properties a year ago. By the end of 2021 more than 10 million dollars of renovations will have been invested in the location.

“I think we’re another six months to a year of what I would call phase one, but this project will be a continuous improvement project for as long as I’m alive,” Schmanke said.

Floors of office space are being gutted, renovated, or modernized.

“As people come back to the office they’re going to look at their office and they’re going to say, ‘Hey we can do better, this old office doesn’t fit us anymore,'” Schmanke said. “We’re trying to provide a good modern alternative with modern office amenities. We have the café, we have meeting rooms, we have a courtyard, we have lots of common areas where people can get out of their office but still stay at the office.”

Elevators and HVAC systems are also being fixed. The public can visit the new café in between the plaza and tower or rent out an event venue on the 16th floor of the tower. Construction of a ground floor ballroom should be finished this month.

Schmanke said he noticed before the pandemic Downtown Topeka was on a roll, and he wants Townsite to be a part of its growth.

“It’s been fun. Some days it’s overwhelming, some days it’s exhilarating, other days it’s frustrating, but most days it’s a good feeling,” Schmanke said.

It’s not the only construction happening in the area. Just next door millions of dollars are going into the renovations of the former AT&T building which will feature leasable office space and modern upgrades.

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